Reviews for Three Days At The Brink

by Bret Baier with Catherine Whitney

Publishers Weekly
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This highly readable but historically muddled work from conservative journalist Baier combines a serviceable biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a crisply paced but superficial diplomatic history of WWII. The key point, Baier asserts, was in late 1943, when an uneasy coalition of Allied leaders met in the Iranian capital of Tehran. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and the U.S.S.R.’s Marshal Josef Stalin agreed the Western Allies would launch a direct invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe in late 1944, opening the “second front” that Stalin insisted would ease pressure on the Red Army and defeat Hitler. The author tries to have it both ways: he contends initially that Roosevelt was the principal architect of a united Allied policy who willed the eventual invasion of Nazi-occupied France into action and served as “the lead strategist for the future” because of his strength of personality, but in the conclusion claims that, “faced with his moment of truth, FDR blinked.” The theatrical depiction of Roosevelt’s courtship, flattery, and “apparent seduction” of Stalin during the three-day meeting, coupled with his apparent abrupt coolness toward Churchill, overstates the president’s impact and underestimates the Soviet leader’s resolve to prevent any future invasion of his country. The dramatic tone of this history is compelling, but shaky scholarship won’t impress readers of history. (Oct.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The third in a presidential trilogy by the Fox News host spotlights another telling moment of executive leadershipin Franklin D. Roosevelt's case, the decision, made in November 1943, to embark on an invasion of Normandy.Admitting he is not a historian, Baier (Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire, 2018, etc.) takes on one of the most written-about personas in history, offering his "personal journalist's spin on the great events of Roosevelt's day." Essentially, he delivers a highly admiring biography that breaks no new ground, using the three days at Tehran, "that vital conference," as the apotheosis of his leadershipwhen he took a chance on Joseph Stalin, whose country's might was deemed necessary to turn the tide of war against the Nazis. Baier builds the narrative with a spirited account of FDR's life, the details of which are well known. Though his mother coddled him, she was also dedicated to his intellectual and emotional growth. As the author writes, awkwardly, "as was the case with so many presidents, Franklin Roosevelt's mother was the wind beneath his expansive wings." FDR's rise in politics was temporarily slowed by polio, but even that could not defeat his spirit. "It strengthened him," writes Baier, "as if he had been waiting all his life for a challenge large enough for his ambitions." Within this "crucible," FDR became a vital leader just in time to help lead the faltering nation out of the Depression. By the time FDR forged his partnership with Churchill, Roosevelt was at the top of his game, a war president who had supreme confidence in his persuasive abilities. Meeting Stalin for the first time face to face had been a hard-won charm offensive, and agreeing to stay in the Soviet Embassy compound (knowing it was bugged) confounded the British even as it disarmed the Soviets. The campaign to hammer out the cross-channel invasion had begun.A condensation of the historical record that will appeal most to Baier's fans. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Something of a specialist in reading history through three-day turning points (Three Days in January, 2017; Three Days in Moscow, 2018), Baier, aided by coauthor Whitney, here focuses on the 1943 Tehran Conference, which finalized the plans for D-Day. In doing so, he is able to recount the larger story of WWII and the three world leaders (FDR, Churchill, Stalin) who met in Tehran to determine the war's endgame. It's a fascinating story, dramatically written, albeit one that's been told many times before. Still, Baier capably scans the backstory the New Deal, the early days of the war, the biographies of the three principals and, if his premise (like so many similar constructs that set out to identify heretofore unrecognized turning points) seems a bit contrived, the Tehran Conference was admittedly a significant event in the war, and Baier re-creates it vividly. He is especially strong in detailing what he calls FDR's delicate gamble at Tehran, seeming to favor Stalin over the sensitive Churchill so as to serve the larger aim of defeating Hitler.--Mark Levine Copyright 2010 Booklist