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The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the…
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The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat…

by David L. Roll

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a great look at World War II that is both dense in details and well executed prose. This book is a pleasant read for an aspiring armchair historian with plenty of new insights and perspective on the central figures of World War II. ( )
  adamps | Aug 11, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The Hopkins Touch" by David Roll is an informative biography about Henry Hopkins, a man who was dedicated to helping others, but who was also interested in achieving power. He was able to accomplish both of these goals in his lifetime. Hopkins suffered from severe illness, but he would not let that stop him. Despite his illness, he was able to achieve so much in his lifetime.

Henry Hopkins lived in an era in which many great historical events occurred, such as The Great Depression and World War II, and he often found himself in the center of these historical events. He was FDR’s right hand man and David Roll does an excellent job of describing Hopkins’ relationship with the president. He says that Hopkins had the right touch because he had a gift in knowing when he could press a subject and when he needed to keep quiet and just listen. He could lighten the atmosphere in a tense room by telling a joke and was the linchpin in bringing Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin together and getting them to cooperate in difficult times.

I learned so much by reading this book. It is much more than a biography or history book. It is a story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. It is about vision and working to achieve goals. It is about relationships and the challenges of getting people to work together. David Roll shares with us Hopkins’ skill at making things work in even the most difficult of times. ( )
  gcamp | Jun 25, 2013 |
I am in fact amazed to what extent I enjoyed this book. How many times have I said I don't like books that focus on military strategies? This book does focus on war strategies, but I was never bored. Hopkins and Roosevelt together planned how to best win the war. Roosevelt relied on Hopkins more than any other individual. They discussed every step. Hopkins resided in the White House for more than three years; he was at Roosevelt's beck and call 24 hours of the day from 1940-1945, unless he was in the hospital. He attended almost all the important conferences except for Potsdam; Roosevelt was dead and Hopkins had resigned at that point. The discussion of when the channel crossing should be set was fascinating, along with the decision to invade Northern Africa. Hopkins was the glue that kept the Anglo-American and Soviet tripartite coalition together. How did he do this? He could read people. He was an expert negotiator.

This could all be very boring, couldn't it? All I can say is that it wasn't. It was in fact fascinating, probably because you come to recognize the idiosyncrasies of Stalin, Churchill, FDR and Hopkins too. Small amusing details are thrown in: Churchill in his dressing gown. Did I hear correctly that it was pink?! The guy was always drinking and then there was the funny moment at the a conference in Quebec when Churchill remarks to Hopkins that the water tasted funny. Hopkins replied that was simply because it lacked any trace of whiskey. Parts are exciting - when the Iowa battleship was torpedoed by friendly fire! The entire American delegation was on that boat. The book is interesting, clear, amusing and well worth your time!

It is remarkable what these two men, Hopkins and Roosevelt, achieved. Two men who were seriously ill. Roosevelt died in April 1945 and Hopkins February 1946. This is something to consider - how hard these two pushed themselves! Hopkins’ digestive system seriously malfunctioned.

So what could have been improved? What is lacking? There is only to a lesser extent information about the youth of either man. The book is instead about the war and what jobs Hopkins held before the war, thus giving him the training necessary for the job, but do you learn to read people? Isn't that an ability that you are born with? Neither is the focus on the respective men's illnesses; their medical illnesses are stated; how they conquered/ignored their disabilities is instead the main issue. Other family members are discussed, but not in depth, just enough to make the reader feel acquainted with them or to make you laugh about particular habits! Maybe I would have liked to know more of Hopkins personal reflections…..but perhaps this is quite simply not known!

The narration by Fleet Cooper was OK. I would have preferred that he less dramatized his reading, and he had a peculiar pronunciation of the word material. Every time he said that word I jumped; the emphasis on "al" was all wrong! Heck, these are not serious problems, none of them.

One other complaint: the author all too often stated that so and so "must" have thought that, and he "most probably" did that. Find out and tell me. I don't want a bunch of suppositions. In 1941 Hopkins was in England during the Blitz, and yet it is implied that he was carousing out about town; I thought he must have been sleeping. He was terribly ill, tired and worn out! Sounded like a bit of an exaggeration!

My complaints are not significant. What is important is that this book was extremely interesting and had a good mix of humor and quirky details. It keeps your attention and makes what could easily be a big bore fascinating.

Completed May 18, 2013 ( )
1 vote chrissie3 | May 18, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The Hopkins Touch" is the true story of Harry Hopkins, a 1930's social reformer who became President Roosevelt's confidante,' policy advisor, and long-term White House boarder. Hopkins was a bit eccentric but was regarded as a charming ladies' man. He was a widower with a young daughter but practiced an early version of shuttle diplomacy, frequently traveling overseas as an advocate for US interests. Hopkins worked long days and often stayed up late into the night chatting and drinking with FDR -- despite a chronic and debilitating stomach illness. In short, Hopkins was one of the most unlikely characters to ever serve a US president -- much less broker the United States' entry into World War II. Engaging, insightful, and amusing," The Hopkins Touch" is a must-read for students of US WWII policy. This review is based on a free, pre-publication edition of the book received through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers' program. ( )
  infogal | Mar 6, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While everyone is familiar with the names of the larger than live characters in command during the second world war; not nearly as many are familiar with the more behind the scenes moves and shakers. When dealing with names such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Marshall,etc. it is easy to see why someone like Harry Hopkins would not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of this period in world history.

David Roll does a splendid job of bring Harry Hopkins and the vital role he played during the war to the forefront. The author gives the general strokes of Hopkins' life but primarily focuses on his roll during the war. Hopkins, without having an official title was the first American to meet with both Churchill and Stalin as Roosevelt's personal representative. The narrative continues from there as the author informs us of the often fragile relationship between the "The Big Three" and how Hopkins played a significant role as active as middleman and broker between the powers.

In addition, the author also provides details on the leaders and their colleagues which may help change the way we look at them. One humorous example was the arrival of Molotov to the White House, where it was discovered he had arrived carrying a loaf of black bread and a pistol.

Definitely worth reading! ( )
  Melkor81205 | Feb 22, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199891958, Hardcover)

The Hopkins Touch offers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt's administration.

David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's--and America's--relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president's. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president's invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt's closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR's problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some--such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins "always went to the root of the matter"--and trusted by most--including the paranoid Stalin--there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of "the White House Rasputin."

Based on newly available sources, The Hopkins Touch is an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:01 -0400)

Based on newly available sources, The Hopkins Touch is an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.

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David L. Roll's book The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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