To Keep the British Isles Afloat: FDR’s Men in Churchill’s London, 1941
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An inside look at the work and adventures of Harry Hopkins and Averell Harriman in the creation of history's most remarkable international partnership
After the fall of France in June 1940, London became the center of world political theater. For the U.S. president, the vital question was: could Britain, with American help, hold out against the might of Nazi Germany? While keeping the United States officially neutral, Franklin D. Roosevelt devised an unprecedented strategy, leading to the revolutionary idea of lend-lease. But was Winston Churchill—famous as a speechmaker but regarded by many as a reckless politician and possibly a drunk—a good bet? To find the answer, Roosevelt dispatched his closest associate, Harry Hopkins, to Britain on a mission. Hopkins's endorsement of Churchill put an end to FDR's doubts, and with the passage of the Lend-Lease Act the president sent Averell Harriman, a wealthy financier and entrepreneur, to London "to keep the British Isles afloat." For Harriman, the assignment turned out to be the great adventure of a remarkable life.
Filled with vivid details and great storytelling, To Keep the British Isles Afloat explores the still-misunderstood beginnings of the unique Anglo-American alliance in World War II, offering an intriguing new look at Roosevelt's thinking and a fresh perspective on the relationship between the president and the prime minister.
March 1939. “If we enter”: Hixson, 101. “we are already engaged”: “The Nation’s Columnists Debate on War and Peace,” Reader’s Digest, June 1939. “master word-painter”: Time, July 31, 1939. Garner quotes: New York Times, July 20, 1939. “Who could have imagined”: Major General H. L. Ismay, quoted in Parkinson, 184. FDR speech quotes from Rauch: Roosevelt Reader, 222–26. “some kind of malnutrition”: Hellman, August 14, 1943. “It was good to see you”: Sandburg to “Friend Hopkins,” December 3,.
Personal concerns in the Roosevelt family. “I suppose Churchill was the best man England had,” FDR said in a cabinet session, “even if he was drunk half the time.” On the same day, May 10, the White House guest list for dinner included the name of Harry L. Hopkins. Still secretary of commerce, though he had been unable to spend much time in his office, Hopkins had managed to contrive a number of initiatives related to national defense, such as plans for stockpiling strategic materials and for.
Won, FDR felt free now to name names: the Nazis must be defeated. “It is a matter of most vital concern to us,” he declared, “that European and Asiatic warmakers should not gain control of the oceans which lead to this hemisphere.” The Nazis aimed at using “the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world.” The central factor and motivator: “If Great Britain goes down, all of us in the Americas would be living at the point of a gun—a gun loaded with explosive bullets, economic as well as.
Lights played their part in drawing Hopkins to the city, and his personal style had nothing of the dogooder about it, he also had higher motives for his choice of profession. At Grinnell, while concentrating on history and political science, he had become imbued with the ideas of the Social Gospel movement, a turn-of-the-century Protestant approach to the problems of working-class people caught up in the stresses and inequities of industrialization. The Social Gospelers took an optimistic view of.
She was, though engaging in social work, devoting much of her time to the suffragist cause, to which she was fervently dedicated; her drive in a cause matched Harry’s own. In one of their almost daily courtship letter exchanges (some of which were actually delivered by messenger), Hopkins, making one of his many humorous efforts to accommodate himself to his fiancée’s militancy, commented: “I can hardly picture myself as a dutiful ‘hubby’ and I’m not so sure that I will always obey, and I know.