1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: September 2015
Duration: 21 hours 10 minutes
1944 was a year that could have undone the Allies and cemented Hitler’s power. Instead, that year saved those democracies. But 1944 was also when the Nazis accelerated the modern age’s worst act of genocide—the killing of millions of European Jews. Jay Winik offers a brilliant new look at the twin challenges facing an ailing Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944--how to win the war and how to save the Jews--and how they competed for his moral and physical energies. His account will change how we see FDR, World War II, and the Holocaust. Winik sets his story within the larger sweep of history and enriches it with profiles of the key players that year, bringing his iconoclastic eye to turning points like D-Day and the decision not to bomb Auschwitz.
It was not inevitable that World War II would end as it did,or that it would end at all well. Time and again, critical decisions by the Allies could have set back their fight against Hitler—a war for the future of humanity. Now, in a superbly told story, Winik captures the epic images and extraordinary history as never before. This one year witnessed FDR’s re-election, the planning of Operation Overlord with Churchill and Stalin, the landing of an unprecedented number of troops in Normandy on D-Day, the Nazis' failure to win the Battle of the Bulge, and the extraordinary conferences that finally led to peace. But on his way to securing that peace, FDR was exposed to mounting evidence of the Final Solution’s atrocities. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Would that rescue get in the way of defeating Hitler? Winik shows how these mounting pressures fell on a wheelchair-bound Roosevelt whose rapidly deteriorating health was a closely guarded secret. He kept himself alive by dint of willpower alone. But in a year when even the most audacious undertakings were within the world’s reach, one challenge—saving Europe’s Jews—seemed to remain beyond Roosevelt's ability.
As he did to such singular effect in April 1865, Winik provides a fresh look at the 20th century’s most pivotal year. Provocative, bold, exquisitely rendered, 1944: The Year That Changed the World is the first book to retell these events with moral clarity and a moving appreciation of the extraordinary actions of many extraordinary leaders.