Churchill Offers Toil And Tears To FDR

PrintPrintEmailEmail

Britain’s dependence on the United States kept Churchill from criticizing his ally publicly and even in private for the most part. Well after the war he omitted, deleted, and left unmentioned almost all of his concerns and anxieties about Roosevelt and American military leaders during the last decisive year of the war, 1944–45. He did this, he later explained in a letter to Eisenhower, who was about to assume the presidency in 1952, with the American-British friendship in mind. (Eisenhower failed to appreciate this favor and treated Churchill with inexcusable disdain then and thereafter.)

Many believe that Churchill’s disagreements with Roosevelt during the last year of the war lay with the American propagation of the piecemeal dismantling of the British Empire, especially in Asia. That is not the case. The main cause was the Soviet Union—its ambitions and heavy presence in so much of Europe after the war. Churchill recognized Stalin’s dangerous aims well before the Americans. He saw the looming dangers and potential tragedies of the postwar world.

Six years after the war ended, he published “Triumph and Tragedy,” the sixth volume of his The Second World War . The triumph over Hitler may not have had to lead to a tragedy, but it did lead to a division of Europe, an iron curtain, and the development of a terrible cold war between the Soviet Union and the West. No American or Russian president or general would call the outcome of the war in Europe a tragedy. Churchill did.

Portions adapted by the author of Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat by John Lukacs, published in May by Basic Books (www.basicbooks.com), a member of the Perseus Books Group. ©2008. This excerpt may not be reprinted without permission from Perseus Books Group and American Heritage Publishing.