Groom brings his experience as both novelist and historian to bear in this well-researched and fast-paced narrative of the complex relationship among the three statesmen who determined the outcome of WWII. Groom demonstrates a solid command of the literature to describe the origins and functioning of a grand alliance that was anything but natural: Britain and the U.S. had a long history of mutual rivalry, and Soviet Russia was an ideological enemy and logical geopolitical adversary of the Western capitalist powers. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin were all products of political adversity, all strong-willed and mutually suspicious. Groom effectively synergizes the interactions of personalities and policies to make a persuasive case that the Big Three managed to make just enough compromises in terms of personae, policies, and principles to keep the alliance on track. In his telling, Churchill is hands-on, Roosevelt more a referee, Stalin a survivor. Groom’s background as a military historian shows in his excellent narrative of the decisive operations in the European theater and their influence on top-level negotiations. General readers in particular will find Groom’s commonsense presentation of the Big Three’s wartime interactions a useful bridge between survey histories and more specialized analyses. This is an excellent history. Agent: Keith Korman, Raines & Raines. (Nov.)
Novelist and historian Groom (El Paso, 2016, etc.) recounts the origins and fortunes of the grand alliance forged to battle the Axis powers in World War II.
In the early 1930s, it would have seemed unlikely for the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States to agree on anything. As the author observes, when incoming President Franklin Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union as a legitimate government, he did so "against the wishes of a large part of the country, including his own mother." Winston Churchill was implacably opposed to any such recognition and held Josef Stalin in scorn, detesting everything about Bolshevism—yet still came together with Roosevelt to join forces with Stalin against Hitler in the west, eventually opening a two-front war. Getting to that point required plenty of maneuvering, and the powers developed considerable skills in hiding things from one another as each jockeyed for position to be first among equals. Groom's account of how Churchill, he of "devious mind," convinced Roosevelt to sign on to the invasion of North Africa is excellent. For all that, there's not much new in this history, and certainly nothing that readers well-versed in WWII history won't know. Yet that doesn't seem to be the audience here, for Groom writes as if his readers had never heard of Churchill, or FDR, or Uncle Joe. That notwithstanding, his accounts of the Tehran Conference of 1943 and the later Yalta Conference are tasty pieces of drama in which Stalin played a too-believing Roosevelt while planning a postwar Soviet empire, or at least a system of satellite states. At the latter gathering, he notes, "Roosevelt made the stunning declaration that he did not intend for American troops to remain in Europe more than two years after the war, and Stalin, apparently emboldened by the news, lied or prevaricated about his intentions in Eastern Europe."
Not Groom at his best but certainly serviceable for readers without much background in the history of the era.
"...one of America’s great storytellers, Winston Groom paints a vivid portrait of men caught between the vise jaws of military necessity and political reality. Anecdotes about their personal lives, such as Stalin’s tumultuous family relationships and FDR’s struggle with polio, bring color to leaders we remember through black-and white photographs and newsreels. Churchill is a character tailor-made for Mr. Groom’s style, and he captures the English lion’s genius for inspiration in bold, beautiful strokes... It is the writing that gives “The Allies” its elemental charm. At its best, Mr. Groom tells an enthralling story of three nations, each wary of the others, and of three men who set aside deep differences for a common cause." –The Wall Street Journal
“Groom brings his experience as both novelist and historian to bear in this well-researched and fast-paced narrative of the complex relationship among the three statesmen who determined the outcome of WWII…This is an excellent history.” –Publishers Weekly
“Novelist and historian Groom recounts the origins and fortunes of the grand alliance forged to battle the Axis powers in World War II.” –Kirkus
"Military historian (The Generals) and fiction writer Groom (Forrest Gump) presents an accessible work about the “Big Three” of World War II: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin. According to the author, who cites well-regarded secondary sources throughout this readable history, it was the brutal international conflict that led to this triumvirate rather than the compatibility of their personalities." –Library Journal
"Knowledge of the Second World War and an understanding of the role played by the dominant personalities who shaped the war are fading from memory. For some, the war and its leaders are ancient history. Winston Groom’s The Allies will hopefully help a new generation learn about the heroics, the horrors, and the tragedies of World War II." –NY Journal of Books
"Groom delivers concise, brisk, biographical sketches of the three individuals, raised in three widely separate and culturally varied places." –Tuscaloosa News
"Novelist and historian Groom recounts the origins and fortunes of the grand alliance forged to battle the Axis powers in World War II." –Crossville Chronicle, Tennessee
“Groom excels at capturing the flow of influence to action.” –Birmingham News
"A superb history of the three leaders who guided the world during WWII: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Not only did these three political giants direct the strategy of the war, they contributed to the future direction of the world by decisions made at the war’s conclusion. Although I have read books and viewed movies that detailed specific battles and places, Groom did a lovely job weaving a story that pulled the events together into a broad perspective which I thoroughly enjoyed. And as I have come to expect in all his histories, the anecdotes were fascinating and I learned new details about the characters and the events in play. A powerful story!"
–Page and Palette
“That unholy marriage of convenience between the Americans and British and the Soviets against their common enemy, Nazi Germany, certainly changed the course of the war and all-but sealed Hitler’s fate. And it is a well-known one, which Groom tells well for a general audience.”
–Vietnam Veterans of America
"I particularly enjoyed how Groom presented the information in a nonchalant sort of way. He painted these figures as men, rather than mythical beings, with faults, and secrets, and personal agendas, which humanized them for me. Also, Groom really hits home the fact that the only reason these three men came together was to oppose fascism, given their clear political points of difference." - The Paperback Pilgrim
“It reminded me of why I adore history so much.” –Instagram: @giuliland
“Groom manages to bring his skill as a historian and his magical novelist powers together to create an astoundingly brilliant historical compilation of one of my personal favorite time periods.” –I Write in Books blog
“I really appreciated the way this book was laid out. The book starts out describing each of the men's upbringings and childhoods. Then it goes on to describe how they came to power. Lastly, it describes how they came to become Allies…perfect for someone who wants to get an in-depth knowledge of these three men, but don't want to read separate books. I love reading historical fiction about WWII and this book really added to my knowledge base.” –Instagram: @crystal_clears_the_shelves
“I was impressed with the level of detail and connections that were provided throughout this book. Groom has captured the spirit of a biography in the context of an event, and effectively knit three lives together in one book.” –Literary Quicksand
“The author doesn’t just write history, he tells a story by giving us a history of each leader and what made them. Afterwards, the reader gets to learn how these three great personalities managed to synergy and find common ground (hating Nazis was a big one).” –Man of La Book
Military historian (The Generals) and fiction writer Groom (Forrest Gump) presents an accessible work about the "Big Three" of World War II: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin. According to the author, who cites well-regarded secondary sources throughout this readable history, it was the brutal international conflict that led to this triumvirate rather than the compatibility of their personalities. After recounting the early lives of the leaders, he offers a traditional overview of the Allies' strategies to victory. Stalin, without ever visiting a battlefront, assigned himself the rank of field marshal while common soldiers waged war. Groom argues that time has nuanced the motivations and actions of Roosevelt and Churchill as being more practical than idealistic, while substantiating Stalin's ruthlessness. All, however, shared a sense of their own indispensability, especially when detailing the events of the 1943 Tehran Conference and 1945 Yalta Conference. VERDICT While this history doesn't offer new material for readers already familiar with the story, Groom's credibility will ensure its demand among readers interested in military history and World War II.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Lib. of Congress, Washington, DC