Cover image for The conquerors : Roosevelt, Truman and the destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945
The conquerors : Roosevelt, Truman and the destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945
Beschloss, Michael R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 377 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E807 .B46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E807 .B46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E807 .B46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



From one of America's most respected historians comes one of the last untold stories of World War II: how Franklin Roosevelt pursued his goal of ensuring that Germany could never again endanger the world. Based on newly released documents, this fascinating work shows how Harry Truman overturned Roosevelt's policy to embrace West Germany as a bulwark against Soviet expansion. of photos.

Author Notes

Michael Beschloss is a historian specializing in the U.S. presidency. The author of five previous books on presidents and world affairs, he is also a commentator on PBS' NewsHour and NBC News Presidential Historian. He lives in Washington, D.C.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

As German forces were driven back in 1943^-45, American leaders were anxious that in 20 years, just as it had done after its defeat in 1918, a vengeful Germany would start another world war. To prevent this, two schools of thought flowed through DC's salons of power: punishment or rehabilitation. The outstanding specialist in this venue of history writing, Beschloss covers the meeting-by-meeting, memo-by-memo political battle between the two approaches, whose chief advocates were Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, favoring the lash, and War Secretary Henry Stimson, the carrot. Neither could definitively draw out a mortally ill Franklin Roosevelt who, as Beschloss witheringly observes, palavered about his jejune memories of childhood visits to Germany, a characteristic deflection of demands on him for decisions. So under the influence of cabinet conflict and Roosevelt's inattention, what to do to or with Germany became a political football. Beschloss' comprehensive research and narration into every nuance opens a significant perspective on bureaucratic politics' effect on the Germany that eventually formed in the early cold war. Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beschloss provides an engaging, if not revelatory, narrative of key events leading up to the conferences at Yalta (Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin) and Potsdam (Truman, Churchill, Stalin) and the Allies' decisions about how to prevent future aggression by post-WWII Germany. In his preface, Beschloss makes much of the fact that this study draws on newly released documents from the former Soviet Union, the FBI and private archives. But Beschloss has unearthed nothing to change accepted views of how FDR developed and then began to implement his vision for postwar Germany. The tales Beschloss gathers here are no different from those already told in such books as Eric Larrabee's Commander-in-Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants and Their War (1987) and Henry Morgenthau III's Mostly Morgenthaus: A Family History (1991). With reference to the latter volume, one of Beschloss's major subplots traces Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr.'s efforts to interest FDR in a draconian, retributive plan (the "Morgenthau Plan") to destroy what little might remain of Germany's infrastructure after the war. Wisely, FDR demurred. Although breaking no new ground, this book by noted presidential historian Beschloss (who has published a trilogy on Lyndon Johnson's White House tapes) will fill the bill for those who need a readable account of how American officials and their Allied counterparts came to draw the map of postwar Europe. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Nov. 4) Forecast: Beschloss has a strong reputation, which means this will be widely reviewed; an 11-city author tour will also bring it to the attention of readers interested in WWII and its aftermath. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Beschloss draws on newly opened archives to show how Roosevelt and Truman decided Germany's fate. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Creating government policy is not easy. Decisions result from consideration of many shifting factors and many different perspectives. Beschloss has written a superb account of the creation of one of the decisive US government policies of the 20th century--what to do with Hitler's Germany after WW II. The author traces the evolution of Roosevelt's thought, the intricate trail of policy input resulting from Roosevelt's chaotic management of his staff, the massive effort made by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau to impose a harsh peace, the president's interplay with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, and the effects of FDR's flagging mental and physical abilities on eventual decisions. Beschloss also recounts Harry Truman's efforts to master large amounts of information about formal and informal agreements among the Big Three allies when he suddenly became president upon Roosevelt's death. The final chapter assesses the result of Roosevelt's and Truman's policies, concluding that their decisions to rebuild Germany as a strong pro-democracy bulwark in the heart of Europe affected the history of the Cold War, and indeed the contemporary world. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All libraries and readers. J. P. Sanson Louisiana State University at Alexandria

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 The Plot to Murder Hitlerp. 1
Chapter 2 "Unconditional Surrender"p. 9
Chapter 3 "Fifty Thousand Germans Must Be Shot!"p. 18
Chapter 4 "On the Back of an Envelope"p. 29
Chapter 5 The Terrible Silencep. 38
Chapter 6 The "One Hundred Percent American"p. 44
Chapter 7 "Oppressor of the Jews"p. 56
Chapter 8 "We Will Have to Get Awfully Busy"p. 70
Chapter 9 "Not Nearly as Bad as Sending Them to Gas Chambers"p. 82
Chapter 10 "Somebody's Got to Take the Lead"p. 91
Chapter 11 "Christianity and Kindness"p. 98
Chapter 12 "It Is Very, Very Necessary"p. 113
Chapter 13 "Do You Want Me to Beg Like Fala?"p. 121
Chapter 14 "A Hell of a Hubbub"p. 136
Chapter 15 "As Useful as Ten Fresh German Divisions"p. 150
Chapter 16 "Lord Give the President Strength"p. 166
Chapter 17 "The Only Bond Is Their Common Hate"p. 178
Chapter 18 "Arguing About the Future of the World"p. 189
Chapter 19 "No Earthly Powers Can Keep Him Here"p. 203
Chapter 20 "What Will We Make of It?"p. 216
Chapter 21 "I Was Never in Favor of That Crazy Plan"p. 226
Chapter 22 "You and I Will Have to Bear Great Responsibility"p. 238
Chapter 23 "How I Hate This Trip!"p. 247
Chapter 24 "We Are Drifting Toward a Line Down the Center of Germany"p. 260
Chapter 25 "The Spirit and Soul of a People Reborn"p. 271
Chapter 26 The Conquerorsp. 283
Author's Note and Acknowledgmentsp. 293
General Sourcesp. 297
Notesp. 315
Indexp. 361