Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World

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9780143125624: Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World

“A fascinating and well-written account of a little-known chapter that was crucial to the course of World War II and to America’s global leadership.” —Henry A. Kissinger

In the dark days between Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 and Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt sent five remarkable men—Sumner Welles, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Harry Hopkins, Averell Harriman, and Wendell Willkie—on dramatic and dangerous missions to Europe. The five envoys’ highly unorthodox missions took them into the middle of the war and exposed them to the leading figures of the age. Taken together, they plot the arc of America’s transformation from a divided and hesitant middle power into a global leader. Drawing on vast archival research, Rendezvous with Destiny is narrative history at its most delightful, stirring, and important.

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About the Author:

Michael Fullilove is the executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Review:

Washington Independent Review of Books:

“Fullilove calls the period between September 1, 1939, and December 7, 1941 'the turning point of the twentieth century.' It has been the subject of outstanding analyses of political decision-making, including Jon Meacham’s Franklin and Winston and John Lukacs’ Five Days in London. With this insightful portrait of five men who were neither president nor prime minister, Fullilove joins Meacham and Lukacs in that impressive scholarly club.”


The Wall Street Journal
"Mr Fullilove infuses each chapter with the danger, romance and deadly seriousness of war."

The Financial Times
"Desperately romantic and impossibly consequential... In Rendezvous with Destiny, Fullilove delivers a rare combination of diplomatic thriller and original history, well-paced and expertly told." 

Time
“Real Team of Rivals stuff: smart, engaging, historical storytelling.” 

The Weekend Australian 
"One of the most fascinating works of history I have read in many years. Fullilove... has combined faultless scholarship and a captivating narrative style to produce an unforgettable book."

The Spectator
“An outstanding book, marked by insight and irony... Fullilove writes superbly.” 

Henry A. Kissinger
“From 1939 to 1941, with Europe at war and the United States strongly isolationist, Roosevelt sent five exceptional men to Europe as his personal envoys to assess, among other issues, America’s role. Rendezvous with Destiny is a fascinating and well-written account of a little-known chapter that was crucial to the course of World War II and to America’s global leadership.” —
 Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University and author of The Future of Power
“Michael Fullilove’s fascinating book reads as easily as a good novel, but it is also an important history of one of the most crucial decisions of the twentieth century.” 

Robert Dallek, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 and An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963
“Michael Fullilove’s compelling account of FDR and the five aides who helped lead the U.S. into the Second World War is an indispensable addition to the literature on the unforgettable events of 1939-1941. Everyone interested in FDR and World War II will want to read this superb book.”

Francis Fukuyama
Rendezvous with Destiny provides a revealing account of the entry of the United States into the Second World War that underlines the importance of leadership and individuals in history.  The story is told with a great eye for detail, as well as a sound grasp of the broad arc of events.” 

Robert Kagan
“A lively and revealing look at five less-known but nevertheless central figures who, acting on behalf of FDR, helped shape the contours of our world.  Written with verve, this is historical biography at its best.”

James Fallows, The Atlantic; author of China Airborne
Rendezvous with Destiny is narrative history in its best and most gripping form. Michael Fullilove wears his scholarship and his years of research very lightly as he brings the extraordinary figures around Franklin Roosevelt to life. I understand FDR’s talents and the drama of America's entry into war in a new way after reading this book.” 

Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution
“Michael Fullilove skillfully recounts an underappreciated strand of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s statecraft—his innovative deployment of five envoys in service of a strategy that would, ultimately, change the course of history. The efforts of Welles, Donovan, Hopkins, Willkie and Harriman, under FDR’s masterful leadership, laid the foundation for Allied victory in World War Two and buttressed Roosevelt’s campaign to awaken America from isolationism.” 

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University; Director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State, 2009-2011
Rendezvous with Destiny is a fascinating tale of diplomacy by envoy, Franklin Roosevelt’s preferred means of guaranteeing that he and he alone could discern the entire tangled web of American foreign policy before Pearl Harbor. Michael Fullilove has an eye for telling details and policy nuances, but above all, he gives us a rollicking good read!” 

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