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Candor, courage linked Churchill, Roosevelt

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Jon Meacham autographs a book at the Stranahan. His best-seller explored the historic Churchill-Roosevelt friendship.

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Courage, candor, and cooperation are the enduring lessons we can take from the men who defeated Hitler.

In challenging times, leaders need courage, citizens should be told the truth, and allies can achieve far more with a network of alliances, Jon Meacham said last night before an audience of 250 at the Great Hall of the Stranahan Theater.

As Roosevelt said in the last speech he ever wrote, we are a neighborhood, and all nations are like a family within it, he said.

Author of the best-selling Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, Meacham, 36, was the third in this season s Authors! Authors! He has been Newsweek s managing editor since he was 29.

He said the friendship started in 1939, when Churchill, England s prime minister, began courting Roosevelt s support for the war effort.

A key example of the importance of personal diplomacy was in 1942, when Churchill was with Roosevelt and received news that Britain had suffered a terrible defeat in North Africa. Churchill s face was overcome with anguish. Roosevelt asked what he could do to help.

Churchill replied that he needed 300 Sherman tanks. Roosevelt agreed, even though America had just a few more tanks than that.

If they would not have been together that day, it s almost impossible to imagine that it would have happened, he said.

He then addressed the war in Iraq.

What I wish the President would do goes to the candor point. The President could explain that things didn t work out as cleanly as he had expected, our intelligence wasn t as good as he would have liked, and he made mistakes.

Because we all know it s true, he said.

The Authors! Authors! series, sponsored by The Blade and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, continues in 2006 with Jeff Smith ( Bone ) on March 7; Khaled Hosseini ( The Kite Runner ) on April 3, and Pulitzer Prize winners Mike Sallah and Mitch Weiss ( Tiger Force ) on May 23.

Contact Tahree Lane at:tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.

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