Masters and Commanders, by Andrew Roberts
A good prosopography—a work in which an author undertakes to examine the behavior of persons engaged in a common enterprise—is a wondrous thing. One thinks of Lewis Namier’s magisterial study of the House of Commons in the 18th century; of Robert Timberg’s The Nightingale’s Song, the account of the American experience in Vietnam through the eyes of five notable graduates of the Naval Academy; of The Wise Men, the narrative by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas about the making and implementation of American foreign policy at mid-century by Harriman, Acheson, Kennan, Bohlen, Lovett, McCloy.
The English historian and biographer Andrew Roberts has now presented us with a splendid prosopography of wartime haute politique, 1941-1945; its subjects, the “masters and commanders” of his title, are Franklin Roosevelt and George Marshall, Winston Churchill and Alan Brooke. The last, Brooke, was Chief of the Imperial General Staff and, soon after the start of the American participation in the war, Chairman of the British Chiefs. Together these four men made grand strategy and saw to its implementation; they were principal architects of the Grand Alliance, constantly in one another’s company (or, when not, in one another’s minds and calculations).
About the Author