Harry Hopkins: Fdr's Envoy to Churchill and Stalin



One of the most controversial figures of the New Deal Era, Harry Hopkins elicited few neutral responses from his contemporaries. Millions admired him and believed the New Deal agencies he headed had rescued them from despair, but many of President Roosevelt's enemies passionately hated him and derisively called him the "world's greatest spender" or FDR's "left-wing Rasputin." Hopkins was a paradoxical man: a trained social worker who enjoyed the company of the "swells," attending cocktail parties, and gambling at the track. Once the quintessential New Dealer, during World War II he single-mindedly devoted himself to aiding the allies, downplaying his previous commitment to social reform and rupturing his friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, among others. He was sickly and underweight, yet a profane and blunt-spoken man, lacking in any outward affectations of charisma. Still, FDR curiously saw Hopkins, who moved into the White House on the very day that Germany invaded France in May 1940, as his most suitable successor, the New Deal's legatee, a possible Democratic nominee for president. Much of what FDR accomplished would never have been possible without Hopkins--whom the press described as not only FDR's most trusted official, but also his most intimate personal friend. Analyzing Hopkins' role in wartime diplomacy and his personal relationships with the twentieth-century's most indispensable leaders, historian Christopher O'Sullivan offers enormous insight into the most controversial aspects of FDR's foreign policy, the New Deal Era, and the beginning of modern American history.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
November 01, 2014
5.14 X 0.87 X 10.24 inches | 1.03 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Christopher D. O'Sullivan teaches history and international studies at the University of San Francisco where he is the recipient of their most recent Distinguished Lecturer Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the author of several books including FDR and the End of Empire, Colin Powell: A Political Biography (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), The United Nations, and Sumner Welles: Postwar Planning and the Quest for a New World Order which received the American Historical Association's Gutenberg-e Prize.


To understand the enigmatic mind of Franklin Roosevelt--who wrote no memoirs--the widest and clearest window is through his alter ego, Harry Hopkins. O'Sullivan does that deftly, neatly constructing a full and fascinating image of the man now routinely labeled "assistant president" to FDR. The research is comprehensive, including some largely untapped writings and drafts. This is a valuable and readable addition to the recent upsurge of studies about a president and his indispensable adviser as they fought America's last "good war."--Warren F. Kimball, Robert Treat Professor of History, Rutgers University
Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, Christopher O'Sullivan shows how Iowa-born Harry Hopkins, President Franklin Roosevelt's closest aide and friend, deftly held together the often fragile three-party coalition of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin that led to victory in World War II. O'Sullivan makes a convincing case that if Roosevelt had lived and if Hopkins had remained in government after the war, relations with Stalin and the Soviet Union would never have deteriorated to the extent they did.--David L. Roll, author of The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler
With a detailed, practical analysis of one of the most accomplished power brokers in F.D.R.'s New Deal administration, O' Sullivan, a professor of history and international studies at the University of San Francisco, focuses on Harry Hopkins, the president's confidant and catalyst for much of the era's liberal policies providing government relief and public work jobs such as the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration. Hopkins, a former social worker and an early F.D.R. appointee, believed relief was a citizen's right in the economic doldrums of the Great Depression, and while operating more than $10 billion in agency budgets he became the 'world's largest employer, with more than fifteen million people working in various programs he ran.' O'Sullivan shows the significant influence he had with the president, serving as an envoy with Churchill and Stalin during crucial moments during WWII. A key feature of the Hopkins saga is the revelation of his private self: a driven and purposeful personality, he was cool under fire and very calculating in his political choices. O' Sullivan's striking portrait captures the life of a resourceful man who did the grunt work for a chief executive whose vision shaped modern American politics.--Publishers Weekly
This volume is an easy read that will be of value to general readers seeking a balanced scholarly introduction to its subject. Among the book's strengths is the inclusion of stories about Hopkins's marriages, parenting, and health.--Historian
In a well-written and perceptive account steeped in the Hopkins papers, O'Sullivan skillfully captures a man who served as an indispensable link between the Big Three--Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. Contesting some recent irresponsible claims, the author shows that Hopkins was never naïve concerning the totalitarian nature of the Soviet regime, but put the defeat of Nazi Germany as his main priority. Anyone seeking to understand World War II diplomacy will find this account most valuable.--Justus Doenecke, New College of Florida