Thomas Fleming is the author of more than forty books, including The New Dealers' War, Duel, and Liberty! The American Revolution, as well as best-selling novels about America's war experience such as Time and Tide and The Officers' Wives. Fleming is a frequent guest on and contributor to NPR, PBS, A&E, and the History Channel. He lives in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut.
Fleming, who previously endeavored to rehabilitate the villainous Aaron Burr in Duel, now attempts even more absurd revisionism. Franklin Roosevelt has been lauded by most historians most brilliantly by Eric Larrabee in his book Commander in Chief (1987) as a shrewd political and military strategist who conducted both aspects of WWII with great guile, wit and efficiency. Fleming, however, portrays FDR as an inefficient and oafish warmonger spoiling for battle amid world political, economic and social tensions he did not understand. Fleming revives the well-worn canard that FDR wanted, needed and invited the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Then he quibbles with the notions of "unconditional surrender" and "total war" imposed on the Axis powers, speculating that some compromise should have been reached. Fleming fails to see what Roosevelt and Churchill (who called him "the most skilled strategist of all") clearly did that Hitler and his allies represented not just standard political and military aggression but a new dark age. Fleming implies that Stalin posed an even larger threat to culture and history, but that the left-wingers of Roosevelt's New Deal government were not disposed to see his evil. In truth, Roosevelt had few illusions when it came to the Soviets. Realizing their potential to be either formidable foes or formidable friends, he chose the latter at the same time reminding the sometimes disapproving Churchill that one occasionally needed to fight fire with fire. Photos not seen by PW. (May 1) Forecast: The controversy that will undoubtedly ensue on this book's publication should drive sales up. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Praise for The New Dealers' War: "A gripping, controversial, informative, and at times infuriating look at FDR's leadership as the nation entered and fought World War II." "It would be a gross understatement to call The New Dealers' War a revisionist history of World War II. Thomas Fleming has...entered the Roosevelt Wing of the American Pantheon with a sledgehammer and reduced it to shambles." "A revisionist blockbuster by a real historian who has an old-fashioned concern with what actually happened in the past, with causes and effects." "Sure to be the most controversial history book of the year.... A scathing commentary that will have partisans howling in protest."
In this work, Fleming, author of more than 40 books, most recently Duel, takes on the Great Depression and World War II, the twin challenges faced by President Franklin Roosevelt. Shocked and disenchanted when he concluded that his hero was a conniving, inept liar, Fleming has transformed his youthful FDR worship into a full-fledged case of anti-Rooseveltism. Granted, FDR was devious, and he did make blunders, but, to be fair, one must measure him against his contemporaries: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Huey Long, and Douglas MacArthur. About the only sign of attempted balance in Fleming's account is his concession that FDR did not actually plan Pearl Harbor. Despite acknowledging that there is "no absolute proof," however, he remains certain that Roosevelt manipulated the Asian situation to draw the United States into the European war against Hitler. Ironically, the author's portrait of extreme divisiveness among New Dealers almost justifies FDR's style. While it is engagingly written, this account unfortunately suffers from the extremism that often characterizes new converts. Specialized collections will find this volume an optional addition. William D. Pederson, Lousiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.