BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “As part of his strenuous life, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a four-volume history of the American West, three biographies, and twenty-nine other volumes, plus some 150,000 letters. Winston Churchill would author forty books. A biographer calculated that in the early twenty-first century Churchill’s words still in print numbered over eight million.”

Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War
Frank Costigliola

In the spring of 1945, as the Allied victory in Europe was approaching, the shape of the postwar world hinged on the personal politics and flawed personalities of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances captures this moment and shows how FDR crafted a winning coalition by overcoming the different habits, upbringings, sympathies, and past experiences of the three leaders. In particular, Roosevelt trained his famous charm on Stalin, lavishing respect on him, salving his insecurities, and rendering him more amenable to compromise on some matters.

Yet, even as he pursued a lasting peace, FDR was alienating his own intimate circle of advisers and becoming dangerously isolated. After his death, postwar cooperation depended on Harry Truman, who, with very different sensibilities, heeded the embittered “Soviet experts” his predecessor had kept distant. A Grand Alliance was painstakingly built and carelessly lost. The Cold War was by no means inevitable.

This landmark study brings to light key overlooked documents, such as the Yalta diary of Roosevelt’s daughter Anna; the intimate letters of Roosevelt’s de facto chief of staff, Missy LeHand; and the wiretap transcripts of estranged adviser Harry Hopkins. With a gripping narrative and subtle analysis, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances lays out a new approach to foreign relations history. Frank Costigliola highlights the interplay between national political interests and more contingent factors, such as the personalities of leaders and the culturally conditioned emotions forming their perceptions and driving their actions. Foreign relations flowed from personal politics—a lesson pertinent to historians, diplomats, and citizens alike.

“This book offers a provocative psychological thesis on leadership and diplomacy that contributes to understanding the origins of the Cold War. It will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in the transition of the Allies from World War II to the Cold War. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Costigliola pulls back the veil on the personal lives of the major figures of World War II. With great verve and captivating anecdotes, he shows how personal politics helped forge and disrupt international alliances. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances combines innovative research, provocative interpretations, and page-turning prose, providing a fresh take on how gender, emotion, class, and culture shaped the high politics of World War II and the Cold War.”—Emily S. Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9524.pdf