Michael Kluger and Richard EvansMar 24, 2021
Roosevelt's and Churchill's Atlantic Charter
A Risky Meeting at Sea that Saved Democracy
Naval Institute Press 2021
Winston Churchill was no stranger to storms. They had engulfed him in various ways throughout his long career and he had always turned to face them with jutting jaw and indomitable spirit. Dark clouds had hovered over him from the moment he became Britain’s Prime Minister in May 1940. Now, fifteen harrowing months later, he was setting out to meet President Franklin Roosevelt, the one man who could offer real assistance in his hour of need. And another storm awaited—this time one of a meteorological kind as his ship, HMS Prince of Wales, ran into a howling gale within hours of leaving its base at Scapa Flow.
After five days, the coast of Newfoundland hove into view and Britain’s Prime Minister was piped aboard USS Augusta at Placentia Bay to meet with FDR. The meeting produced a document, strangely never signed, called The Atlantic Charter—an eight-point agreement designed to act as a guide for how the world’s nations should behave towards each other in the post-war years. Many of the principles laid out in this document are incorporated into the Charter of the United Nations.
In their book, Roosevelt's and Churchill's Atlantic Charter: A Risky Meeting at Sea that Saved Democracy (The Naval Institute Press, 2021), Michael Kluger and Richard Evans explain how this document came into being—bits of it being scrawled out on scraps of paper over dinner—and delve into the lives of the two most prominent and influential figures of the twentieth century. While this narrative book is not aimed at an academic audience, it is sure that this exciting and interesting tale, will interest the lay educated public who is beginning to be interested in the history of the Second World War.
Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.