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Monday, November 28, 2016

1944: FDR and the YEAR THAT CHANGED HISTORY (audiobook) by Jay Winik

A Review of the Audiobook

Published in 2015 by Simon and Schuster Audio
Read by Arthur Morey
Duration: 21 Hours, 10 minutes

Josef Stalin (1878-1953), FDR (1882-1945) and Winston
Churchill (1874-1965) at the Tehran Conference in 1943.
The premise of 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History is that 1944 is the most important year of World War II - the year that the Allies grew certain that they were going to win the war, the year that post-War plans were laid out, the year of the D-Day invasion and more.

This effort by Jay Winik is very readable and was an informative and entertaining listen. There are times when he creates fabulous images in the listener's mind that are worthy of any novelist. His description of the extent of anti-Jewish operations throughout Europe and particularly in Auschwitz and other death camps are so vivid and so striking that I can readily recommend this book as a good place to start for anyone who wants a serious look.

The book focuses on FDR, his personality and how he shaped the war effort and post-War institutions like the United Nations. Winik details Roosevelt's health problems and points out how Roosevelt's health affected his efforts and possibly affected his judgment.

However, there is a problem with the book and that is the title - what he wrote about does not match the title.

He has written an excellent book, but I don't think that he proved his assertion of the title that 1944 was THE YEAR. The book covers all of FDR's life and spends a lot of time in every year of the war but 1944. The topics he covered were important and he covers them well. A great deal of the book covers the holocaust and FDR's response to the proof that the "final solution" was underway. I have no problem with this as a topic (I already noted this above) but I do have a problem with a book that purports to talk about the importance of 1944 to world history and goes on to literally spend more time talking about Anne Frank than the entire Pacific Theater of World War II. I am not kidding. Don't get me wrong - Anne Frank's story is compelling, but it is not, in and of itself, worthy of more mention than all of the fighting in Korea, China, the Philippines, the attempted invasion of Australia, the use of the atomic bombs, the war atrocities throughout the theater and the millions of soldiers and sailors involved in fighting throughout the theater.

The reader, Arthur Morey, did an excellent job, even going so far as to mimic the voice of FDR when he read quotes from him.

This is a well-written and immensely informative book that is simply mis-titled. 

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5 because of the misleading title.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: 
1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History.

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