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Masters and Commanders

How constant behind-the-scenes bickering helped Britain and America win World War II.

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So much has been written about World War II. Is it possible that another 700 pages is warranted or welcome? British historian Andrew Roberts makes a compelling case for the affirmative with Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945.

Using wartime diaries and meeting notes (some newly discovered), unpublished memoirs, as well as more readily available sources and historical accounts that he has clearly mastered, Roberts chronicles in novelistic detail the battles that the Americans and the British fought ... among themselves.

Before Allied bullets flew in 1942 and beyond, American and British leaders often exchanged barrages of memos, full of acerbic talking points and bombastic opinions on strategic questions great and small. Internecine battles were frequent, too, with fellow nationals depicting one another, generally behind each other’s back, in the most appalling language.

The stakes, after all, were about as high as they get.

Focusing his narrative on President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and their respective top military advisers, Gen. George C. Marshall and Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Roberts takes the reader on an invigorating, intellectual march from North Africa and Italy to France and finally into Germany.

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