Summary and book reviews of The Conquerors by Michael Beschloss

The Conquerors

Roosevelt, Truman and The Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945

by Michael Beschloss

The Conquerors by Michael Beschloss X
The Conquerors by Michael Beschloss
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2002, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 432 pages

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Book Summary

Reveals one of the most important stories of World War II. As Allied soldiers fought the Nazis, Franklin Roosevelt and, later, Harry Truman fought in private with Churchill and Stalin over how to ensure that Germany could never threaten the world again.

From one of America's most respected historians, The Conquerors reveals one of the most important stories of World War II. As Allied soldiers fought the Nazis, Franklin Roosevelt and, later, Harry Truman fought in private with Churchill and Stalin over how to ensure that Germany could never threaten the world again.

Eleven years in the writing, drawing on newly opened American, Soviet and British documents as well as private diaries, letters and secret audio recordings, Michael Beschloss's gripping narrative lets us eavesdrop on private conversations and telephone calls among a cast of historical giants. The book casts new light upon Roosevelt's concealment of what America knew about Hitler's war against the Jews and his foot-dragging on saving refugees; FDR's actions so shocked his closest friend in the Cabinet, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., that Morgenthau risked their friendship by accusing the President of "acquiescence" in the "murder of the Jews."

After the Normandy invasion, "obsessed" by what he had learned about the Nazis and the Holocaust, Morgenthau drew up a secret blueprint for the Allies to crush Germany by destroying German mines and factories after the European victory. As The Conquerors shows, FDR endorsed most of Morgenthau's plan, and privately pressured a reluctant Churchill to concur. Horrified, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry Stimson leaked the plan to the press at the zenith of the 1944 campaign. Hitler's propagandist Joseph Goebbels denounced the Roosevelt-Churchill "Jewish murder plan" and claimed it would kill forty-three million Germans. Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey charged that by stiffening German resistance, publicity about Morgenthau's plan had cost many U.S. soldiers' lives.

The Conquerors explores suspicions that Soviet secret agents manipulated Roosevelt and his officials to do Stalin's bidding on Germany. It reveals new information on FDR's hidden illnesses and how they affected his leadership -- and his private talk about quitting his job during his fourth term and letting Harry Truman become President. It shows us FDR's final dinner, in April 1945, in Warm Springs, Georgia, at which the President and Morgenthau were still arguing over postwar Germany. Finally it shows how the unprepared new President Truman managed to pick up the pieces and push Stalin and Churchill to accede to a bargain that would let the Anglo-Americans block Soviet threats against Western Europe and ensure that the world would not have to fear another Adolf Hitler.

Contents

PREFACE
Chapter 1 : The Plot to Murder Hitler
Chapter 2 : "Unconditional Surrender"
Chapter 3 : "Fifty Thousand Germans Must Be Shot!"
Chapter 4 : "On the Back of an Envelope"
Chapter 5 : The Terrible Silence
Chapter 6 : The "One Hundred Percent American"
Chapter 7 : "Oppressor of the Jews"
Chapter 8 : "We Will Have to Get Awfully Busy"
Chapter 9 : "Not Nearly as Bad as Sending Them to Gas Chambers"
Chapter 10 : "Somebody's Got to Take the Lead"
Chapter 11 : "Christianity and Kindness"
Chapter 12 : "It Is Very, Very Necessary"
Chapter 13 : "Do You Want Me to Beg Like Fala?"
Chapter 14 : "A Hell of a Hubbub"
Chapter 15 : "As Useful as Ten Fresh German Divisions"
Chapter 16 : "Lord Give the President Strength"
Chapter 17 : "The Only Bond Is Their Common Hate"
Chapter 18 : "Arguing About the Future of the World"
Chapter 19 : "No Earthly Powers Can Keep Him Here" ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although breaking no new ground, this book by noted presidential historian Beschloss will fill the bill for those who need a readable account of how American officials and their Allied counterparts came to draw the map of postwar Europe.

Kirkus Reviews
A lucid study of how FDR's evolving vision of postwar Europe, enacted by Truman, prevented a recapitulation of Versailles and allowed for the rise of a prosperous, democratic, peaceable Germany.... An altogether valuable addition to the historical literature.

Booklist - Gilbert Taylor
Beschloss' comprehensive research and narration into every nuance opens a significant perspective on bureaucratic politics' effect on the Germany that eventually formed in the early cold war.

Reader Reviews

Edward Tan

Michael Beschloss has produced his usual good work in "The Conquerors". However, it is surprising that no mention was made of the Harrison Report (August 1945) and President Truman's effort in causing Prime Minister Attlee to allow the ...   Read More

Anonymous

A wate of time!

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