Chrissie's Reviews > The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler

The Hopkins Touch by David L. Roll
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really liked it
bookshelves: bio, history, usa, audible, alt, leaders

I am in fact amazed to what extent I enjoyed this book. How many times have I said I don't like books that focus on military strategies? This book does focus on war strategies, but I was never bored. Hopkins and Roosevelt together planned how to best win the war. Roosevelt relied on Hopkins more than any other individual. They discussed every step. Hopkins resided in the White House for more than three years; he was at Roosevelt's beck and call 24 hours of the day from 1940-1945, unless he was in the hospital. He attended almost all the important conferences except for Potsdam; Roosevelt was dead and Hopkins had resigned at that point. The discussion of when the channel crossing should be set was fascinating, along with the decision to invade Northern Africa. Hopkins was the glue that kept the Anglo-American and Soviet tripartite coalition together. How did he do this? He could read people. He was an expert negotiator.

This could all be very boring, couldn't it? All I can say is that it wasn't. It was in fact fascinating, probably because you come to recognize the idiosyncrasies of Stalin, Churchill, FDR and Hopkins too. Small amusing details are thrown in: Churchill in his dressing gown. Did I hear correctly that it was pink?! The guy was always drinking and then there was the funny moment at the a conference in Quebec when Churchill remarks to Hopkins that the water tasted funny. Hopkins replied that was simply because it lacked any trace of whiskey. Parts are exciting - when the Iowa battleship was torpedoed by friendly fire! The entire American delegation was on that boat. The book is interesting, clear, amusing and well worth your time!

It is remarkable what these two men, Hopkins and Roosevelt, achieved. Two men who were seriously ill. Roosevelt died in April 1945 and Hopkins February 1946. This is something to consider - how hard these two pushed themselves! Hopkins’ digestive system seriously malfunctioned.

So what could have been improved? What is lacking? There is only to a lesser extent information about the youth of either man. The book is instead about the war and what jobs Hopkins held before the war, thus giving him the training necessary for the job, but do you learn to read people? Isn't that an ability that you are born with? Neither is the focus on the respective men's illnesses; their medical illnesses are stated; how they conquered/ignored their disabilities is instead the main issue. Other family members are discussed, but not in depth, just enough to make the reader feel acquainted with them or to make you laugh about particular habits! Maybe I would have liked to know more of Hopkins personal reflections…..but perhaps this is quite simply not known!

The narration by Fleet Cooper was OK. I would have preferred that he less dramatized his reading, and he had a peculiar pronunciation of the word material. Every time he said that word I jumped; the emphasis on "al" was all wrong! Heck, these are not serious problems, none of them.

One other complaint: the author all too often stated that so and so "must" have thought that, and he "most probably" did that. Find out and tell me. I don't want a bunch of suppositions. In 1941 Hopkins was in England during the Blitz, and yet it is implied that he was carousing out about town; I thought he must have been sleeping. He was terribly ill, tired and worn out! Sounded like a bit of an exaggeration!

My complaints are not significant. What is important is that this book was extremely interesting and had a good mix of humor and quirky details. It keeps your attention and makes what could easily be a big bore fascinating.
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Reading Progress

April 5, 2013 – Shelved
April 5, 2013 – Shelved as: bio
April 5, 2013 – Shelved as: history
April 5, 2013 – Shelved as: usa
April 5, 2013 – Shelved as: audible
April 11, 2013 – Shelved as: alt
May 13, 2013 – Started Reading
May 17, 2013 – Shelved as: leaders
May 18, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura This does look good!


message 2: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 06, 2013 10:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Have you read No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt? You know Hopkins lived in the White House with Roosevelt. Goodwin's book only whetted my interest.


message 3: by Laura (new)

Laura I started that book, but it wasn't the thing during tax season. I'll pick it up again.


message 4: by Laura (new)

Laura This one looks good. Is the audio good?


Chrissie So far the narration by Fleet Cooper is fine. Not as slow as others, but not difficult to follow.


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura That's good to know.


Chrissie This is a good book about war strategy. I become more and more impressed with the author the further I go. I like this a lot. Detailed, thorough, intense and it even has humor.


message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura Wow. War strategy turns me a bit lukewarm, but I'm glad you're enjoying it.


Chrissie A book centered on war strategy is NOT an easy read! I am in fact amazed that I actually find it terribly interesting. I sometimes feel I need to switch to a lighter read, but Under Fishbone Clouds is terrible. Really I think I have to dump it.....


Chrissie Oh there is such a funny line.... Churchill says the water tastes funny. Hopkins replies that is because there is no whiskey in it.

Churchill guzzles liquor, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all through the night. And he runs around in a pink dressing gown. I knew this from Goodwin's book, but it is still amusing.


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura That is amusing. I'd have liked to be a fly on the wall...


message 12: by Chrissie (last edited May 17, 2013 08:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie There are other funny things too that lighten the text. At the Tehran Conference a huge ice-cream dessert collapses on Stalin's translator.

I have learned a lot. I like it a lot! It gets better and better. I don't think I will even start Some Sing, Some Cry until I finish this.


message 13: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Definitely going to have to read this one.


Chrissie I highly recommend it.


message 15: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne I think I'm going to create a "Chrissie liked" shelf! :)


Chrissie Oh that is funny!


Chrissie I tried to write a review of The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler, but I didn't do it justice. I am so amazed that I found war strategies interesting.....maybe because you saw how temperamental were the people that had to be cajoled to work together! I like books that make the characters of history personal.


message 18: by Almeta (new) - added it

Almeta Damn you!:P

I thought I was going to get away with not adding this to my TBR list. I'm not fond of military strategy or books about war in general.

I thought that you would protect me! But now your review has made me add this to my list.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll add this for Andreas. :)


Chrissie Almeta, I am sorry...... I know it is so nice when I read a terrible book then I can tell people to remove it from their lists. :0)

Jeanette, Per listened to much of it with me and liked it too. We both thought it was worth four stars.

I actually also began to sympathize with Stalin. Dare I say that? Every single one of them acted for their own interests. POOR Russia was getting millions killed and wanted the channel crossing! It was so interesting that Stalin was always told last what was planned but he always knew anyway, through his spies. I really did like the book.


message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael Grea review. Makes my wonder how someone so inexperienced in war strategy end up with such power to shape Roosevelt's choices. It must have made some enemies among the generals. Trying to remember from Goodwin's book (and Winds of War), but was Hopkins and architect of Lend Lease to Russia? Seems a real win-win for fighting Hitler, business for U.S. companies, and getting our industry up to speed on armaments.


message 22: by Cherie (new) - added it

Cherie Lynne wrote: "I think I'm going to create a "Chrissie liked" shelf! :)"

Great comment, Lynn, but I feel the same way!


Chrissie Michael, yes. Hopkins strongly supported Lend Lease not only to Britain but Russia too! Hopkins was one of the few Westerners that Stalin related to, almost as a "friend".

Cherie, :0)


message 24: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Lynne wrote: "I think I'm going to create a "Chrissie liked" shelf! :)"

Like! :-)


Chrissie Well, you know what I kind of like......


message 26: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "Well, you know what I kind of like......"

True, though book by book you sometimes surprise me. If I haven't read the book you might like or not like it based on something I don't know about that book.


message 27: by Chrissie (last edited May 20, 2013 08:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie This one surprised me, but when I picked it I was not aware of the emphasis on war strategy! In the future I know that a good author can make such a subject interesting.


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