Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945

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Harper Collins, May 5, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 673 pages
5 Reviews

An epic joint biography, Masters and Commanders explores the degree to which the course of the Second World War turned on the relationships and temperaments of four of the strongest personalities of the twentieth century: political masters Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the commanders of their armed forces, General Sir Alan Brooke and General George C. Marshall. Each was exceptionally tough willed and strong minded, and each was certain that he knew best how to win the war. Yet each knew that he had to win at least two of the others if he was to have his strategy adopted. Andrew Roberts, whom The Economist calls "Britain's finest contemporary military historian," traces the mutual suspicion and admiration, the rebuffs and the charm, the often-explosive disagreements and wary reconciliations, and he helps us to appreciate the motives and imperatives acting upon these key leaders struggling to destroy Nazism.

Drawing on newly discovered verbatim accounts of Churchill's war-cabinet meetings and on the private papers of nearly seventy contemporaries, Roberts reconstructs the lively debates of the four principals and other leading figures, and attempts to answer some of the key questions of Allied strategy. Why, when the most direct route from Germany to Britain was through north-western France, did the Western Allies launch attacks via North Africa, Sicily, and Rome? Why, if Operation Overlord in June 1944 was intended to be the start of the Allies' great thrust into Germany, did four hundred thousand men land five hundred miles to the south, in southern France, two months later? Why did the Allies not take Berlin, Vienna, or Prague and allow the Iron Curtain to descend where it did?

Masters and Commanders dramatically re-creates the atmosphere, debates, and maneuverings through which Allied grand strategy was forged and reveals the profound impact of personality upon history.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jared_Runck - LibraryThing

The focus of Roberts' work is the complex interrelationship of four key leaders: Roosevelt and Churchill (the "Masters," i.e., the political players) and Brooke and Marshall (the "Commanders," i.e ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Chris469 - LibraryThing

I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in strategic planning by the Western Allies in World War II, in particular the personalities and details of the wartime conferences of the top ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
part i
9
June 1940December 1941
41
December 1941February 1942
66
FebruaryApril 1942
116
April 1942
137
AprilJune 1942
167
June 1942
197
JuneAugust 1943
381
NovemberDecember 1943
429
December 1943May 1944
455
AugustDecember 1944
509
December 1944February 1945
533
FebruaryMay 1945
548
The Riddles of the War
573
The Major Wartime Conferences
585

July 1942
219
January 1943
316
JanuaryJune 1943
346
Bibliography
615
Index
625
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Andrew Roberts is the author of Masters and Commanders and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. His other books include Napoleon and Wellington, Eminent Churchillians, and Salisbury, which won the Wolfson History Prize. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University and writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and The Daily Beast. He lives in New York City.

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