Roosevelt and His Diplomatic Pawns

FDR masterfully maneuvered the United States into the Second World War without appearing to do so. His corps of envoys and advisers did little to shape the agenda of a strategic and political mastermind.

Issue: September-October 2013

Michael Fullilove, Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World (New York: Penguin, 2013), 480 pp., $29.95.

THIS IS certainly an interesting and meticulously researched book, agreeably written and rigorous in its assertion of historical facts. The only reservation that arises is that the basic premise seems to confer too much importance on the five people who are its subjects, in their shared roles as special envoys for President Franklin D. Roosevelt between March 1940 and July 1941. This was a terribly complicated and intense period in international relations, in which the United States moved to confirm President Roosevelt’s prediction (in his speech accepting renomination in Philadelphia on June 27, 1936), that “this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” Roosevelt led it to that rendezvous with astonishing agility and both tactical and strategic brilliance. The contention of this book appears to be that the five men featured—Sumner Welles, William J. Donovan, Harry Hopkins, Wendell Willkie and W. Averell Harriman—were indispensable to making it to the encounter with destiny and making the experience a national and international success.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!