This is one of the better books I have read lately. Hamilton does a very good job telling the story of Roosevelt's first year as a war leader. The book includes a lot of useful insights into the people surrounding Roosevelt during that year, in particular Winston Churchill and Secretary of War Henry Stimson.
With respect to Churchill, this book made it more clear than any other I have read to what extent the politics over Churchill's commitment to preserving the British Empire affected relations between the allies during the war. To modern readers familiar with Great Britain, it takes some getting used to to realize that in 1940, Britain was only the center of a worldwide empire, and Churchill was working to salvage that empire, arguably to the detriment of winning the war.
An egregious example of this was in March, 1942, when, terrified of the Japanese Navy's raids into the Indian Ocean, which was a helpful sideshow in the Pacific war in that it gave the Navy the opportunity to mount the Doolittle raid as well as organize its forces to effectively defend Australia a few weeks later, and Midway the month after that, Churchill asked Roosevelt to send the U.S. Pacific Fleet to defend India. Thus the entire defense of the Pacific was secondary to him to preserving the crown jewel of the British Empire.
What I had never read before, and I thought was particularly fascinating was the way Hamilton describes Gen. Douglas MacArthur's role in all this. While making clear that MacArthur did an abysmal job defending the Philippines, Hamilton makes clear that in comparison to MacArthur, who was successful in getting America's allies the Filipino soldiers to fight alongside the American soldiers, Britain was unsuccessful in persuading its colonial ranks to fight the Japanese. So as bad is MacArthur's conduct in the Philippines was, it was still better than the showing by the British forces in Singapore at about the same time, where the colonial troops simply joined up with the Japanese soldiers.
The book also tells an interesting story about how Roosevelt tried to persuade Churchill to promise India its independence in order to give it soldiers an incentive to fight, noting that America had done this with the Philippines before the war, and it apparently was providing Filipino soldiers with motivation to stay in the battle. Churchill flatly refused.
Another interesting aspect of the book was the extensive discussion regarding Secretary of War Henry Stimson's disagreements with the president over war strategy, which at one point almost spilled over into outright mutiny. Roosevelt's management of Stimson was masterful, and kept all hands pulling toward the same goal.
Overall, one of the best books I have read lately, and an outstanding treatment of the subject. My only complaint was that it ended only year into the war. I look forward eagerly to the sequel that I understand is coming.