Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence

By Francis L. Loewenheim; Harold D. Langley et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

This volume includes the heart of one of the most extraordinary collections of letters in modern history--the more than 1,700 messages exchanged between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston S. Churchill during World War II.

Initiated by President Roosevelt in September 1939, the correspondence continued at an unflagging pace until the President's sudden death in April 1945. It was a correspondence so truly top secret that its substance was known to only a handful of the President's and the Prime Minister's closest advisers; and it was almost certainly never intended to be published in this form.

Roosevelt and Churchill were strikingly different personalities, and they differed notably in their attitude toward correspondence and written records in general. Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Churchill issued instructions that all his orders would be in writing and that no orders from him were to be obeyed unless received in such form. Evidently he made it a practice to keep remarkably clear and complete records of all his important activities, military, political, and diplomatic.

The President, on the other hand, had a considerable dislike of written and formal records. In 1943, for instance, he instructed the Department of State not to publish at that time the minutes of the Big Four during the Paris peace conference of 1919 on the ground that such records ought never to have been kept and certainly should not be published. In his own case, during World War II, he bore ultimate responsibility for the absence of formal written records of many of his

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