Secret affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and Sumner Welles

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Johns Hopkins University Press, Mar 1, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 499 pages
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The president was paralyzed from the waist down, but concealed the extent of his disability from a public that was never permitted to see him in a wheelchair. The secretary of state was old and frail, debilitated by a highly contagious and usually fatal disease that was as closely guarded a state secret as his wife's Jewish ancestry. The under secretary was a pompous and aloof man who married three times but, when intoxicated, preferred sex with railroad porters, shoeshine boys, and cabdrivers. These three legendary figures--Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and Sumner Welles--not only concealed such secrets for more than a decade but did so while directing U.S. foreign policy during some of the most perilous events in the nation's history. In Secret Affairs Irwin Gellman brings to light startling new information about the intrigues, deceptions, and behind-the-scenes power struggles that influenced America's role in World War II and left their mark on world events--for good or ill--in the half-century that followed. The product of twenty years' research, Secret Affairs contains a wealth of new material, fresh interpretation, and often disturbing revelations. Gellman has gained unprecedented access to previously unavailable documents, including Hull's confidential medical records, unpublished manuscripts of Drew Pearson and R. Walton Moore, and Sumner Welles's FBI file. He examines the supposed contradiction between Hull's reluctance to condemn German antisemitism and his marriage to a woman of Jewish descent. And he reinterprets key State Department memos in the light of what is now known about the men who wrote them. Gellman concludes that while Roosevelt, Hull, and Welles usually agreed onforeign policy matters, the events that molded each man's character remained a mystery to the others. Their failure to cope with their secret affairs--to subordinate their personal concerns to the higher good of the nation--eventually destroyed much of what they hoped would be their legacy. Roosevelt never explained his objectives to Vice President Harry Truman or anyone else. Hull never groomed a successor, and Welles kept his foreign assignations as classified as his sexual orientation. Expertly researched and splendidly narrated, Secret Affairs tells the dramatic story of how three remarkable Americans--despite private demons and bitter animosities--could work together to lead their nation to victory against fascism.

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Secret affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and Sumner Welles

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A diplomatic historian best known for Good Neighbor Diplomacy (1979), Gellman now beckons general readers with a claim to having "extended the traditional boundaries of nonfiction, to tell the most ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Irwin F. Gellman is the author of Roosevelt and Battista: Good NeighborDiplomacy in Cuba, 1933-1945 and Good Neighbor Diplomacy: United States Policies in Latin America, 1933-1945. An independent scholar, he lives in Corona Del Mar, California.

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