American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II
Jonathan W. Jordan
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American Warlords is the story of the greatest “team of rivals” since the days of Lincoln.
In a lifetime shaped by politics, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proved himself a master manipulator of Congress, the press, and the public. But when war in Europe and Asia threatened America’s shores, FDR found himself in a world turned upside down, where his friends became his foes, his enemies his allies. To help wage democracy’s first “total war,” he turned to one of history’s most remarkable triumvirates.
Henry Stimson, an old-money Republican from Long Island, rallied to FDR’s banner to lead the Army as Secretary of War, and championed innovative weapons that shape our world today. General George C. Marshall argued with Roosevelt over grand strategy, but he built the world’s greatest war machine and willingly sacrificed his dream of leading the invasion of Europe that made his protégé, Dwight Eisenhower, a legend. Admiral Ernest J. King, a hard-drinking, irascible fighter who “destroyed” Pearl Harbor in a prewar naval exercise, understood how to fight Japan, but he also battled the Army, the Air Force, Douglas MacArthur, and his British allies as they moved armies and fleets across the globe.
These commanders threw off sparks whenever they clashed: Generals against politicians, Army versus Navy. But those sparks lit the fire of victory. During four years of bitter warfare, FDR’s lieutenants learned to set aside deep personal, political, and professional differences and pull a nation through the twentieth century's darkest days.
Encircling Roosevelt’s warlords—and sometimes bitterly at odds with them—was a colorful cast of the Second World War’s giants: Winston Churchill, MacArthur, Josef Stalin, Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles de Gaulle. These and other larger-than-life figures enrich a sweeping story of an era brimming with steel, fire, and blood.
Drawing upon a wealth of primary sources, American Warlords goes behind closed doors to give readers an intimate, often surprising view of titans who led America from isolation to the summit of global power. Written in a robust, engaging style, author Jonathan W. Jordan offers a vivid portrait of four extraordinary Americans in the eye of war’s hurricane.
Marshall also avoided visits to Springwood, Roosevelt’s Hyde Park mansion. He kept his distance from FDR’s inner circle, discouraged Roosevelt from calling him by his first name, and even tried to avoid laughing at the president’s jokes. When Harry Hopkins suggested that Roosevelt would welcome Marshall occasionally dropping by for a martini in the presidential study, Marshall replied, “I’m at the president’s disposal and he knows it, twenty-four hours of the day. But if I attempted to step out
the American warlords drifted back to Washington, they wondered whether the agreements on Poland, Soviet ports, or the United Nations organization would hold. Roosevelt could only hope that the Russian dictator was trustworthy and powerful enough to ensure that the foundations of peace laid at Yalta would carry long into the postwar years. He knew Stalin might not grant the liberated nations full democratic rights, and he foresaw resistance by Churchill to self-determination of Britain’s imperial
Nation,” NYT, 1/23/44. 17 HLS, 11/25/42; FDR, fireside chat, 6/12/42, FDR-PP, 1942, 270–71. 18 John Kenneth Galbraith, “What I’ve Learned,” Esquire (January 2002); Galbraith, Life in Our Times, 155. 19 “WPB Bars Rubber for Corset Field,” NYT, 2/26/42; “Return is Hinted of Elastic Yarns,” NYT, 7/17/43; “Fears of Milady for Girdles Fade,” NYT, 7/10/42; “New Corsets End Fears of Women,” NYT, 9/30/42; “Elastic in Girdles Ordered Reduced,” NYT, 4/23/42; Goodwin 357, quoting Raymond Clapper,
346, 421 third term issue, 48–49 trip on USS Iowa, 300–2 Truman and, 443 unconditional surrender issue and, 235–36, 271, 292, 447, 461 United Nations and, 345–46, 423–25, 434, 435 unlimited national emergency declared by, 76–77, 85 veterans and, 344–45 war production and, 139–40, 209–10, 219 war scenarios and, 65 Washington Conference and, 258, 259, 264–65 women in life of, 247 Woodring and, 33–34 Yalta Conference and, 415, 420–28 Yamamoto’s death and, 248–49 Roosevelt, Franklin
pressed in conference, he would fire back with the rapid cadence of a Vickers gun and overwhelm his opponent with facts and figures, not all of which were necessarily germane to the dispute.13 Colonel Shrapnel held little regard for the Johnny-come-lately Yanks who knew nothing of the German fighting man, and his first impression of Marshall was of a pleasant man lacking military sense. As Brooke later remarked in his diary, Marshall “is, I should think, a good general at raising armies and