Jean Edward Smith
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One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.
This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details. We see how Roosevelt’s restless energy, fierce intellect, personal magnetism, and ability to project effortless grace permitted him to master countless challenges throughout his life. Smith recounts FDR’s battles with polio and physical disability, and how these experiences helped forge the resolve that FDR used to surmount the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the wartime threat of totalitarianism. Here also is FDR’s private life depicted with unprecedented candor and nuance, with close attention paid to the four women who molded his personality and helped to inform his worldview: His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, formidable yet ever supportive and tender; his wife, Eleanor, whose counsel and affection were instrumental to FDR’s public and individual achievements; Lucy Mercer, the great romantic love of FDR’s life; and Missy LeHand, FDR’s longtime secretary, companion, and confidante, whose adoration of her boss was practically limitless.
Smith also tackles head-on and in-depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelt’s public career, including his disastrous attempt to reconstruct the Judiciary; the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans; and Roosevelt’s occasionally self-defeating Executive overreach. Additionally, Smith offers a sensitive and balanced assessment of Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust, noting its breakthroughs and shortcomings.
Summing up Roosevelt’s legacy, Jean Smith declares that FDR, more than any other individual, changed the relationship between the American people and their government. It was Roosevelt who revolutionized the art of campaigning and used the burgeoning mass media to garner public support and allay fears. But more important, Smith gives us the clearest picture yet of how this quintessential Knickerbocker aristocrat, a man who never had to depend on a paycheck, became the common man’s president. The result is a powerful account that adds fresh perspectives and draws profound conclusions about a man whose story is widely known but far less well understood. Written for the general reader and scholars alike, FDR is a stunning biography in every way worthy of its subject.
From the Hardcover edition.
departure from Albany. In the interim, John Garner had been nominated by acclamation for vice president, Farley bringing the Roosevelt delegations into line without a murmur. Shortly after 6 P.M. Chairman Walsh introduced Roosevelt amidst a thunderous ovation. FDR was wearing a blue suit with a rose in his lapel, his eyes shining, his head thrown back, as the organist broke into another spirited rendering of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The crowd of 30,000 was on its feet as Roosevelt began. “I
consideration, no action by either caucus. Members took on faith what the leadership presented, and the leadership took on faith what FDR requested. Shortly before four o’clock Speaker Henry T. Rainey of Illinois asked for the yeas and nays. The bill passed with a unanimous whoop of approval. There was no request for a roll call. The New York Times reported that the members appeared like poker players “who throw in their last chips in the belief they will win.”25* By the time the Senate turned
staff to the commander in chief and, in effect, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff.* In retrospect, the establishment of the command structure to fight the war was an unprecedented achievement that reflected the extraordinary ability of Churchill and Roosevelt to saw off minor differences and find common ground. Roosevelt, unlike Lincoln, was also well served by his long familiarity with the Army and Navy and his ability to pick effective military subordinates. Leahy, Marshall, King,
Republicans, the House of Representatives contained 17 Independents, Progressives, and Socialists. Guide to U.S. Elections 928. 58. Walker to FDR, November 7, 1912. 59. FDR to ER, January 1913, Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, FDRL. In addition to Agriculture and Forest, Fish, and Game, Roosevelt was placed on the standing committees on Codes; Railroads; and Military Affairs. 60. FDR to Joseph Tumulty, January 13, 1913, FDRL. 61. Eleanor Roosevelt, interview with Frank Freidel, May 1, 1948, cited in
Random House, Inc. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 2007. Grateful acknowledgment is made to HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., for permission to reprint brief excerpts from Working with Roosevelt by Samuel I. Rosenman, copyright © 1952 by Harper & Brothers. Copyright renewed © 1980 by Dorothy R. Rosenman, Robert Rosenman, and James R. Rowen. Used by permission. Unless