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The Conquerors

Book Review

 

Title:

The Conquerors

Author:

Michael Beschloss

Publisher:

Simon and Schuster,  New York, NY

ISBN:

0-684-81027-1

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

May, 2003

Rating:

Near the end of World War II, a great  debate began concerning how Germany would be administered at the end of the conflict. The Conquerors tells the inside story of how this decision was made.

Get more information about The Conquerors at amazon.comThe  book begins with the bomb assassination plot against Hitler at his secret headquarters deep in the East Prussian forest. The allies realize they will need to formulate  a plan to administer Germany at the end of war. In several face-to-face conferences, the leaders of the allies, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill decide that they will need to emasculate the nation so that it will never be capable of starting  another war.

Several plans were put forward, with the most influential and controversial  being a plan by Henry Morgenthau. This plan recommended that all heavy industry  would be removed from Germany and its people returned to an agrarian lifestyle consistent with the 19th century. Heavily punitive, the plan was opposed by  a number of prominent cabinet level members of the United States government, including Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry Stimson.

As the war progressed, Roosevelt could not agree to a final plan. Sickened by  a heart disorder that would eventually claim his life and the pressures of leading the country in wartime, he became weaker and weaker and began to agree to every plan that was put in front of him. Due to Morgenthau's close personal relationship  with Roosevelt however, his plan continued to be the blueprint for Germany's  future until Truman finally took office and dismissed Morgenthau from the cabinet.

Much of the book is based on previously classified documents. It describes what  really happened between the allied leaders at their meetings in Yalta, Tehran, and Casablanca, including a number of personal glimpses at the relationships between the three leaders. One bombshell dropped by this book is the suspicion  that Harry White, a senior member of Morgenthau's staff, conducted secret meetings  with his Soviet counterparts. The story also shows how Roosevelt manipulated  his political contemporaries so as to maintain his own political power.

The Conquerors provides the reader an insight into how the administration of the conquered nations might have been much different had not the Marshall plan been adopted to rebuild Europe. It describes the political infighting that characterized  much of the wartime administration of the United States government and highlights  the interaction of the major cabinet level politicians and tells how each promoted his personal agenda.



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