In This Review

The Atlantic Charter
The Atlantic Charter
Edited by Douglas Brinkley and David R. Facey-Crowther
St. Martin's Press, 1994, 202 pp

Eight essays by British, American, and Canadian historians, which explore the historic eight-point declaration of principles Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt adopted in August 1941. The essays by Theodore Wilson and David Reynolds assess the circumstances immediately surrounding the charter's promulgation, with Reynolds noting the deep suspicion of the United States in official British circles, which the leaders' face-to-face encounter did little to allay. Lloyd Gardner and Warren Kimball examine the dilemmas Roosevelt subsequently faced in giving concrete form to the charter's glittering generalities. Apart from a few passages in Kimball's essay, little attention is given to the ideological origins of the charter. The focus instead is on, in Gardner's words, the "inherent contradictions between the Wilsonian worldview as expressed in the Atlantic Charter and what Big Three requirements demanded." Roosevelt's apparent belief that he could reconcile these contradictions through personal diplomacy with Stalin remains the principal enigma of the whole story.