Hoover Institution Press Releases Book Highlighting Herbert Hoover’s Examination of World War II and Its Cold War Aftermath Freedom Betrayed, edited by George H. Nash

Monday, November 7, 2011
Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and It
Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and It

The Hoover Institution Press today released Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath, edited with an introduction by George H. Nash. Freedom Betrayed is the culmination of an extraordinary literary project launched by Herbert Hoover during World War II: a memoir that evolved into a comprehensive critique of US foreign policy during this war and the ensuing early years of the Cold War. Although Hoover completed his manuscript almost fifty years ago, it has never before been published or made available for research. It is now being made public for the first time.

Click here to read an NRO article about the book.

Hoover and his staff informally referred to his massive book-in-the-making as the Magnum Opus.  He labored on it during the course of two decades, producing what may be the most ambitious and systematic work of World War II revisionism ever attempted. He considered it to be his most important book and his “will and testament” to the American people.  He wanted it to be an irrefutable indictment of the “lost statesmanship” of his presidential successor, Franklin Roosevelt. To Hoover, FDR’s prewar and wartime diplomacy had made the world safe for Stalinist Russia, triggering a dangerous, third world war—the Cold War—against a “Communist giant which our own leaders helped build.”

Freedom Betrayed is a historical document of the first importance.  It fearlessly examines issues still debated by scholars. It provides a matchless window into the mind of our nation’s thirty-first president during his many years as an active elder statesman. Not everyone will be persuaded by Hoover’s arguments or by his perspective on the Second World War.  But in the words of the Stanford University historian David Kennedy, “Freedom Betrayed is must-read for anyone interested in the most consequential upheaval of the twentieth century.”

The original manuscript, drafts, and research materials for Freedom Betrayed are housed in the Hoover Archives in the Herbert Hoover papers and the Arthur Kemp papers.

Herbert Hoover (1874–1964) served as president of the United States from 1929 to 1933. An internationally acclaimed humanitarian, he founded the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace and authored more than thirty books.

George H. Nash is a historian, lecturer, and authority on the life of Herbert Hoover.  His publications include three volumes of a definitive, scholarly biography of Hoover and the monograph Herbert Hoover and Stanford University. Nash is also the author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945 and Reappraising the Right: The Past and Future of American Conservatism.  A graduate of Amherst College and holder of a PhD in history from Harvard University, he received the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters in 2008.  He lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

For more information on Freedom Betrayed, visit HooverPress.org.  For more information on the Hoover Institution, visit Hoover.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Scribd (keyword: Hoover Institution). 


“What an amazing historical find! Historian George H. Nash, the dean of Herbert Hoover studies, has brought forth a very rare manuscript in Freedom Betrayed. Here is Hoover unplugged, delineating on everything from the ‘lost statesmanship’ of FDR to the Korean War. A truly invaluable work of presidential history. Highly recommended.”
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY is professor of history at Rice University and editor of The Reagan Diaries.

“Finally, after waiting for close to half a century, we now have Hoover’s massive and impassioned account of American foreign policy from 1933 to the early 1950s. Thanks to the efforts of George H. Nash, there exists an unparalleled picture of Hoover’s world view, one long shared by many conservatives. Nash’s thorough and perceptive introduction shows why he remains America’s leading Hoover scholar.”
JUSTUS D. DOENECKE, author of Storm on the Horizon: The Challenge to American Intervention, 1939–1941

“A forcefully argued and well documented alternative to, and critique of, the conventional liberal historical narrative of America’s road to war and its war aims.  Even readers comfortable with the established account will find themselves thinking that on some points the accepted history should be reconsidered and perhaps revised.”
JOHN EARL HAYNES, author of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

Freedom Betrayed offers vivid proof of William Faulkner’s famous dictum that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” For those who might think that history has settled the mantle of consensus around the events of the World War II era, Hoover’s iconoclastic narrative will come as an unsettling reminder that much controversy remains. By turns quirky and astute, in prose that is often acerbic and unfailingly provocative, Hoover opens some old wounds and inflicts a few new ones of his own, while assembling a passionate case for the tragic errors of Franklin Roosevelt’s diplomacy. Not all readers will be convinced, but Freedom Betrayed is must-read for anyone interested in the most consequential upheaval of the twentieth century.”
DAVID M. KENNEDY is professor of history emeritus at Stanford University and the author of Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945.

“Herbert Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed is a bracing work of historical revisionism that takes aim at U.S. foreign policy under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Part memoir and part diplomatic history, Hoover's magnum opus seeks to expose the “lost statesmanship” that, in Hoover’s eyes, needlessly drew the United States into the Second World War and, in the aftermath, facilitated the rise to global power of its ideological rival, the Soviet Union.  Freedom Betrayed, as George Nash asserts in his astute and authoritative introduction, resembles a prosecutor’s brief against Roosevelt—and against Winston Churchill as well— at the bar of history.  Thanks to Nash’s impressive feat of reconstruction, Hoover’s “thunderbolt” now strikes—nearly a half-century after it was readied.  The former president’s interpretation of the conduct and consequences of the Second World War will not entirely persuade most readers.  Yet, as Nash testifies, like the best kind of revisionist history, Freedom Betrayed “challenges us to think afresh about our past.”
BERT PATENAUDE, author of A Wealth of Ideas: Revelations from the Hoover Institution Archives

 “Nearly fifty years after his death, Herbert Hoover returns as the ultimate revisionist historian, prosecuting his heavily documented indictment of US foreign policy before, during, and after the Second World War. Brilliantly edited by George Nash, Freedom Betrayed is as passionate as it is provocative. Many no doubt will dispute Hoover’s strategic vision. But few can dispute the historical significance of this unique volume, published even as Americans of the twenty-first century debate their moral and military obligations.”
RICHARD NORTON SMITH is a presidential historian and author, former director of several presidential libraries, and current scholar-in-residence at George Mason University.