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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), by Nigel Hamilton

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Reviewing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s record as wartime president, historians often cite his moral vision, his skillful politicking leading into the war or his ability to inspire the American people. Nigel Hamilton examines FDR’s record from a different angle through his hands-on direction of the war as commander in chief. Contrary to the quibbling accounts left behind by the era’s military officers, Hamilton finds FDR as a shrewder commander than his adjutants with a strategic sense they lacked. His main points are valid, yet the author’s preoccupation with trivia doesn’t enhance his account. Do we need to know the tonnage of the presidential yacht (and every other vessel FDR sailed on)? Was Hamilton being paid by the word?