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The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted December 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Educational, but...

    Despite the Subtitle, this book does not primarily focus on the first 100 days. Over half the book covers FDR's political life before his first inauguration. Since my primary reason for buying this book was to educate myself on the parallels between then and now as well as the policy action.<BR/><BR/>That being said, this is a good book for anyone wanting to learn about FDR's early political career and the events that shaped his character and methods.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    Doris Kearns Goodwin is much better and Mr. Atler must have read these, John Meachams Franklin and Winston also much better.

    After reading the book for my book club, the author spoke at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield ct. He was terrible, he was to speak on his book, he just was comparing FDR to President Obama. People left and he didn't sell many books. I did learn the true meaning of the 100 days which was interesting and should have been his point and stick to FDR. I heard both Doris Kearns Goodwin and John Meacham speak on their books and he is neither. It was a free event. People I met after said after hearing him they would never buy the book. He was factual but it was all in Goodwins books. The 100 day concept was the only new thing and that was interesting.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Important history with all the depth of a kiddie pool

    In a story recounted in "Newsweek" senior editor Jonathan Alter's "The Defining Moment," President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called on former Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes during his first hundred days in office. Afterwards, Holmes mentioned FDR's cousin Theodore, and made the remark "A second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." (Holmes never clarified which Roosevelt he was talking about, though most historians have assumed he meant Franklin.)<BR/><BR/>Alter's book is just that: first-class writing, but as far as a deep and probing analysis of the legendary 100-day emergency session of Congress that marked the beginning of the Roosevelt Administration, this book only rates second-class (and that's being incredibly generous). The book spends too much time setting up the players -- FDR, Eleanor, Sara, Louis Howe, Herbert Hoover -- and how they got there, and not enough time on what they actually DID. It rehashes FDR's early career, but brings little that's new or groundbreaking to the table. The coverage of the actual 'Hundred Days' is rather perfunctory and almost seems like an afterthought.<BR/><BR/>"The Defining Moment" also suffers from feeling too much like a collection of "Newsweek" pieces rather than a cohesive long-form historical narrative. Most chapters are short enough they could probably have been run in Alter's magazine as a series of 4-5 page articles. Alter's writing reads like a "Newsweek" article, too -- well-polished, but with the intellectual depth of a child's wading pool. Those used to lengthy, well-researched tomes by the likes of David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin will be vastly disappointed.<BR/><BR/>Alter's book has resurfaced again because of comparisons between the crisis FDR faced in March 1933 and the crisis facing president-elect Barack Obama in 2009. (Keith Olbermann flogging it every time Alter appears on MSNBC's "Countdown" doesn't hurt either.) While there may be some interesting parallels between Roosevelt's crisis and Obama's, this is far from the best book out there if you want to read up on the historical side of this story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    Recommended

    Interesting and informative, but could use some editing. Prone to wander off the subject.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    Three parts appetizer, one part entre and no desert

    I read this book twice, once rather rapidly for "enjoyment" and a second time several months after to get the "substance." I can say without equivocation that Parts 1, 2 and 3 fit nicely into Francis Tiffany's idea that, "...all is but prelude...." The meat, if it can be called such, is Part 4 when the 100 days is actually discussed.
    While the first 3 parts don't really cover the 100 days, they do give a rather deep, and at times slogging, review of FDR's life before the election of 1932 and the start of his presidency. But, was it really worth it? I've wondered that for a while now. However, without an idea of what made the man, can you truly understand what the man made?

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