President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill had a few disagreements about fighting the Axis powers during World War II. And their personalities differed, as well. For instance, Churchill frequently and unashamedly cried in public, while Roosevelt struck Vice President Harry S. Truman as "the coldest man I ever met." However, their differences were outweighed by their similarities. They both loved politics, history, strong liquor, and neither outdid the other in confidence and courage.
In Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, author Jon Meacham tells the remarkable story of the two men who mapped the strategy that saved the world from the Axis war machines. From the beginning of the war until Roosevelt's death, the two exchanged nearly 2,000 messages and spent parts of 131 days together to forge a united Allied stance. FDR's schedule was so docketed with heavy matters that when his sons needed to talk with him they had to make appointments.
There were some light moments. Once, when FDR rapped on Churchill's bedroom door in the White House, Churchill shouted, "Come in." On seeing a nude Churchill dictating to an aide, FDR apologized and retreated. Churchill stopped him and said, "You see, Mr. President, I have nothing to hide from you."The book details FDR's hidden romance with Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd and Eleanor's stoicism. No evidence links Churchill to extramarital dalliance, but in a rare moment of anger his wife Clementine hurled a plate of spinach at him. (It missed.)Meacham, Newsweek's managing editor, examines the strain between Churchill and FDR at the crucial Tehran and Yalta summits, and he explores the perplexing question of why Churchill decided not to attend Roosevelt's funeral. Refraining from second-guessing, as some historians are wont to do, Meacham makes clear that if Churchill and FDR's compatibility and mutual affection had not allowed them to do what they did, we all would be living in a very different world.