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Verk av David McKean


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A solid contribution to our understanding of how America came to turn from Isolation to Internationalism in the face of Nazi Germany's increasingly belligerent actions in Europe largely through the eyes of FDR's ambassadors in Europe.
Blythewood | 3 andra recensioner | Jun 11, 2024 |
I don’t know much about FDR. It was a good read and I didn’t feel it lagged anywhere. The book mostly centers around FDRs ambassadors to German, Britain, France and Italy and relates their experiences in each of those countries during the build up to World War II. Starting with America’s isolationist policy to the war up to Pearl Harbor and FDRs sudden death. Very informative and well written.
Arkrayder | 3 andra recensioner | Sep 6, 2022 |
FDR, His Ambassadors and the Rise of Adolph Hitler

“Watching Darkness Fall” is of considerable interest for those fascinated in history especially in the Roosevelt era. The account provides us with a broad-ranging study of the role of ambassadors in delivering information about the rise of Europe’s regimes from 1933 to 1941.

Mr. McKean delivers a biography of four American diplomats as they struggle to handle the rise of fascism. The information taken from diaries, letters and records reveals that the President counted on his ambassadors in France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy to collect information needed to make proper decisions. All but one of FDR’s ambassadors misjudged Hitler and his intentions.

From the perspective of Joseph Kennedy, William Dodd, Breckinridge Long and William Bullitt who witnessed the rise of the Third Reich firsthand often communicated with the president to inform him. McKean argues that although Roosevelt was more interested in domestic concerns at the time he was also very skeptical of his emissaries’ correspondence. Eventually Roosevelt intelligence channels led him away from being cautious over international involvement to the certainty that his country would be facing a European war. Then Pearl Harbor happened and all changed.

This account covers a lot and is so loaded with facts and people it can be overwhelming at times, I know I was and needed to put it aside multiple times and concentrate on something lighter. Although, this book is a long read and a tedious one the vivid depiction of the individuals will make the reader (me) want to pursuit and not abandoned it in order to broaden knowledge, we learn a lot: not only of FDR but also the diplomatic dance before America plunged into the war and what transpired during the event all the way to FDR collapse and death and beyond his tenure. I could say more but this is one of those books that should be read and appreciated individually.

No doubt, “Watching Darkness Fall” is an interesting book for all. Historical buffs will love it and rookies will have their interest piqued.....and some will pass on it, definitely not for everyone.

I would like to thank St-martin Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
… (mer)
Tigerpaw70 | 3 andra recensioner | Nov 21, 2021 |
David McKean’s insightful history of President Roosevelt’s ambassadors offers a unique view of history through the men who were FDR’s ears and eyes abroad during the rise of Hitler. On the homefront, Watching Darkness Fall is the story of how FDR contended with American isolationism while knowing that the rise of fascism in Europe meant America would be forced to become involved.

FDR had a wonderful insight into human nature that allowed him to inspire loyalty–and manipulate and contain would-be adversaries. For his ambassadors, he chose an academic–Dodd, trusted friends–Bullitt and Long–and a man he owed a political favor but did not trust–Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.

William Bullitt came from a politically connected, wealthy family. FDR sent him on several fact finding missions in Europe. Bullitt charmed FDR’s office wife Missy LeHand, along with numerous other women. FDR identified him as the right man for ambassador to the Soviet Union; during the war, he was assigned to France and painfully experienced the Nazi takeover of his beloved Paris.

William E. Dodd was a professor of history who spoke German. “I want an American liberal in Germany as a standing example, FDR told him. Dodd was appalled by the Nazis and warned of impending war. His daughter became a Soviet spy!

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. understood money. FDR offered him government positions as a reward for his support, but Kennedy wanted a cabinet position. He was offered the ambassadorship to London. The Kennedy family at first charmed the Brits, but Joe became persona non gratis with his entrenched insistence on American isolationism. He had no sympathy for the Jews and thought fascism had provided economic stability for Germany and was the future for all democracies–including America.

Breckinridge Long was in the Wilson administration and FDR sent him to Italy where he came to admire Mussolini. As Secretary of State, his inaction to refugees fleeing Nazi persecution was based on national security concerns and his antisemitism, and he suppressed information about the mass murder of Jews.

Watching Darkness Fall greatly contributed to my understanding of this critical time. I found it an interesting study in context of the rise of fascism in the 21st c.

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
… (mer)
nancyadair | 3 andra recensioner | Oct 13, 2021 |

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