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Posted November 30, 2003
Sailor in the White House: The Seafaring Life of FDR
'Sailor in the White House' offers a new way of looking at Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We never knew that he had an overwhelming passion for nautical matters throughout his life. In this connection, Robert Cross sees a distinct parallel between FDR's skill as a gifted sailor and his unique governing style. Roosevelt used a similar approach in both arenas: he was a master of improvisation; he showed flexibility and a willingness to modify and compromise; he would admit failure and change his tack if he believed it would succeed. Mr. Cross does a fine job in weaving FDR's love of matters nautical into the extraordinary national and global events that took place during his era. He was a major player from the time of young manhood through the day of his passing. There are surprises in this book. For instance, Roosevelt learned to sail as a young boy at Campobello Island. By the age of 14, he hd crossed the Atlantic nine times with his parents. While at Campobello, after losing the 1920 race for U.S. Vice-President, he was stricken with polio. Following this episode, he spent the better part of the next decade on sailboats and other craft. As described by the author, 'When he was skipper of his own sailboat, he no longer felt paralyzed. He could be free. He was the master of his own movements.' As New York's Governor beginning in 1928, he spent much time aboard his 73-foot motor yacht on which he sailed the Hudson River. This boat was a precursor to his Presidential yacht, 'Potomac.' When President Roosevelt traveled aboard a Navy ship, it was adapted with equipment that enabled him to have mobility. He sailed every year except for 1942, following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. 'Sailor in the White House' contains rare, previously unpublished photographs. Of great interest is a chronological list of 110 vessels, ranging from canoes to battleships, that FDR traveled aboard. In addition, a Glossary of nautical terms is included for 'landlubbers.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2003
Sailor in the White House: The Seafaring Life of FDR
'Sailor in the White House' offers a new way of looking at Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It provides an entirely new approach to how we think about FDR and his impact on our world. This book chronicles his lifelong passion for all things nautical. As author Robert F. Cross writes in his preface, 'Roosevelt spent more days at sea than any American president, before or since.' Cross has a very unique and interesting reason for writing about the nautical part of Roosevelt's life. He writes, 'I've been fascinated with this aspect of FDR's life for a long time. There are distinct parallels between his skills as a sailor and his governing style. He was a master of improvisation. He could admit failure. He could change his tack and try something else.' This book includes rare, previously unpublished photographs. Of significant interest is a chronological list of 110 vessels, which describes the canoes, iceboats, Coast Guard cutters, submarines, surface warships and other vessels that he traveled aboard. The author has conveniently included a Glossary of nautical terms for 'landlubbers,' while his very comprehensive Bibliography, Notes and Index will prove to be useful to readers and researchers. There are many significant details and surprises in 'Sailor in the White House.' For instance, Roosevelt was taught to sail as a boy at Campobello Island, where he learned to navigate the dangerous tides and rocky shoals of the Bay of Fundy. By the age of 14, he had crossed the Atlantic nine times with his parents. He sailed every year except for 1942, following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After losing the race for the United States vice-presidency in 1920, Mr. Roosevelt went to Campobello and sailed with friends and family. One morning, he woke up, feverish and unable to walk. Diagnosed with polio, he spent much of the next decade traveling around the the country on houseboats and sailboats. As Cross wrote, 'When he was skipper of a sailboat, he felt as if he was no longer paralyzed. He could be free. He was the master of his own movements.' As New York's governor, beginning in 1928, he would leave the Executive Mansion in Albany, go on board his 73-foot motor yacht, 'The Inspector,' and travel on the Hudson River to the Erie Canal. He spent so much time on this vessel that it was called 'The Floating Capitol.' It was a precursor to the presidential yacht, 'Potomac,' which the Washington press corps dubbed the 'Floating White House.' Following the same path as his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, he became Assistant Secretary of the Navy before being elected to the White House. When President Roosevelt traveled aboard a Navy ship, it was adapted with equipment that would enable him to be mobile. Special hoisting equipment was used to enable him to get to and from small boats that he used for fishing. Importantly, the author weaves United States and world events into the theme of 'Sailor in the White House.' As we know, the role of FDR in global history was immense. Yet, Mr. Cross has been able to place into context issues ranging from Franklin Roosevelt's childhood through college, political positions, World War I, Eleanor and the family, the Depression, presidency, New Deal, Lend-Lease, World War II, Churchill, Stalin and the multitude of historic events that he participated in during his lifetime. Robert Cross has made a major contribution to American history in writing 'Sailor in the White House.' This book is receiving critical acclaim from some of America's most respected scholars. Pulitzer prize-winning author, Dr. Arthur Schlesinger, calls it 'a delightful book that adds a new dimension to our understanding of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Geoffrey Ward, another award-winning Roosevelt scholar, describes the book as 'a fresh and vivid portrait of Franklin Roosevelt.....No one interested in FDR or his era will want to miss it.' I agree with the opinions of Dr.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.