Being there . . . . 10 August, 1941 on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales anchored in Placentia Bay off the coast of Newfoundland when Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt who arrived earlier on board the USS McDougal for the risky Atlantic Conference that became the germ of the United Nations



                        A book reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi

“Roosevelt and Churchill – The Atlantic Charter, August 14, 1941”, by Michael Kluger & Richard Evans. Frontline Books, dist. Naval Institute Press: 203 pages, hc; $37.95.

 Alone, Britain faced the Axis, from May 1940 to June, 1941.  Although morale in the British Isles plummeted, “Good Old Winnie!”, his popularity quite astonishing, inspired the people to fight alone. While the RAF held off the Luftwaffe over London, Churchill knew the nation and its brave fighting men and women would need help. President Roosevelt was committed to helping battle Hitler, and the “guttersnipe’s” Third Reich, but Congress was not. 

 The day after Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on America. With that, less than 90 days later, Churchill braved the U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic to meet empathetic President Roosevelt face-to-face for the first time. Along with their Chiefs of Staff and their naval and military advisors, they hammered out in four days an Atlantic Charter of eight points. Initially, so astonishingly secret was it that the Fuhrer never learned about it until much later. Riveted in their resoluteness of high and deep respect for one another, to say nothing about the unabashed personal, nay brotherly, liking and loyalty for one another,  the World War II buff and enthusiast is stunned so little is known about their mutuality to bring the Charter about, the welding needed to hold it together, and the birth point by point in as few pages of print as possible! To this day, only a handful realize the surprisingly few words of that document. Coupled with the extraordinary heroism of the fighting Russian soldiers amid the rubble of Stalingrad, the day and night Allied bombing of Germany, and the successful strategic thrust through Italy, the tide had turned against evil.

 Thank God, in what one might insist is the same heartfelt spirit of collaboration, two good men, one a Britisher, the other American, have given readers a peerless perspective of both the full conference story, focusing upon the writing of the draft which most certainly would assure victory. A long stretch, but in some ways a charter comparable to an international Magna Charta? Well, that might be carrying it a bit too far, yet . . . . . . . . why not read it for yourself to decide.

 In short, “Roosevelt and Churchill – The Atlantic Charter” is a masterful account, indeed a brilliant narrative, of two great, great men cemented together in innumerable ways negotiating an extremely urgent episode fraught with unfathomable danger, if only Hitler knew, to determine the fate of the civilized world.

 Reading doesn’t get any better than this.