Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life / Edition 3

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Overview

This biography offers a clear, concise and moving portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt. Her wisdom, kindness, trials and tribulations serve as wonderful examples of the power of human dignity, and of the ability of extraordinary people to captivate America .

The titles in the Library of American Biography Series make ideal supplements for American History Survey courses or other courses in American history where figures in history are explored. Paperback, brief, and inexpensive, each interpretative biography in this series focuses on a figure whose actions and ideas significantly influenced the course of American history and national life. At the same time, each biography relates the life of its subject to the broader themes and developments of the times.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321342324
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 7/15/2005
  • Series: Library of American Biography Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 253,730
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE:

Editor's Preface

To those who met them casually, American women seemed a favored species. Again and again European travelers commented on the elevated status of the ladies they encountered in their voyages in the United States. Held in respect, relieved of contact with brutal necessities, allowed to expand their minds, independent guardians of the culture—these were the conventional descriptions. True, a surprisingly large percentage of them labored for a livelihood, and female wage earners were no better off than their male counterparts. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the number who worked at home or in factories steadily increased. But women of the middle classes were the pampered darlings of the society—elevated on pedestals away from the cares of the workaday world and guarded against all unpleasantness. One of them was Eleanor Roosevelt, daughter of a well-to-do family, bearer of a distinguished name, favored by fortune in every respect. <<P> But the casual observers did not know the inner turmoil in such women's lives. Nor could they sense the emptiness that :',was the result of lacking a worthy function in the world. Eleanor, like other women of her class, was self-educated and free of material cares. In accordance with expectations, she made an acceptable marriage. She bore an appropriate number ',Of children. But sooner or later she had to confront a problem tethers did not: what to do with herself. Her life thereafter was a long complex process of discovery.

And then the world crowded in upon her. Her life extended across three wars of mounting intensity, across depressions and profound political and economicchanges. Soon enough she became familiar with the misery of the millions of her fellow countrymen and women not as well situated as she. Sensitivity to their situation drew her away from the sheltered round of social activities expected of women in her class.

Eleanor's position as daughter of a well-known family and as wife of a rising politician in Washington and in Albany prepared her for her role as First Lady after her husband's election to the Presidency in 1932. From that vantage point she gained insight into twentiethcentury social problems and steadily expanded the scope of her interests. But her significance did not hinge entirely upon Franklin Delano Roosevelt's position. For years after his death she continued to explore the meaning of her Americanism and her role as a woman sensitive to the needs of changing times. Professor Youngs's thoughtful account provides a moving description, both personal and social, of the forces that transformed the twentieth-century world.

Oscar Handlin

Preface to the Second Edition

Since the publication in 1985 of Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, scores of new books and articles have explored the life and legacy of America's preeminent First Lady. In various ways this second edition reflects the new scholarship. The "Note on the Sources" has been expanded to include some of the most important additions to the Eleanor Roosevelt bibliography. These include volumes of Roosevelt's own writings, general histories, topical essays, and a book-length bibliography.

At a few places in the text of the second edition I have included additional material culled from these works. The amended sections include material on Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok, her stance on the Equal Rights Amendment, her contributions to civil rights, her wartime activities, and her postwar liberalism. The fundamental design of the book remains as it was in the first edition. When I wrote Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, I intended to draw a portrait that would explore Eleanor's public career within the framework of her personal growth, including her childhood and her intimate life as an adult.

The era of the Monica Lewinsky scandal has brought to the fore a journalistic intrusiveness undreamed of in Eleanor Roosevelt's lifetime. Arguably, Eleanor's extraordinary legacy in public life was made possible in part by her ability to maintain a sphere of privacy around her personal life—although as her fame grew, that sphere contracted. Fortunately for students of history, Eleanor and her friends left an abundant record of her personal life, to be explored for the most part after her death.

Since the initial publication of Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, the book has acquired new life in several electronic forms. It is available as a recording, in a superb reading by Donada Peters for Books on Tape. For the second edition I am preparing material for a site on the World Wide Web, where I will include photographs and new information on such topics as the debate over Eleanor Roosevelt's stance on women's rights. The URL for the site is www.narhist.ewu.edu/er/er.html. My own e-mail address is jyoungs@ewu.edu—like most authors, I am always glad to receive mail with observations and questions about my writing.

J. William T. Youngs
Cheney, 1999

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface.
Acknowledgments.
Prologue: The South Pacific, 1943.

1. A Victorian Family.
2. The Legacy.
3. Growing Up.
4. Eleanor and Franklin.
5. A Politician's Wife.
6. Grief.
7. Public Service.
8. First Lady.
9. The Democratic Crusade.
10. On Her Own.

Study and Discussion Questions

A Note on the Sources.
Index.

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Preface

PREFACE:

Editor's Preface

To those who met them casually, American women seemed a favored species. Again and again European travelers commented on the elevated status of the ladies they encountered in their voyages in the United States. Held in respect, relieved of contact with brutal necessities, allowed to expand their minds, independent guardians of the culture—these were the conventional descriptions. True, a surprisingly large percentage of them labored for a livelihood, and female wage earners were no better off than their male counterparts. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the number who worked at home or in factories steadily increased. But women of the middle classes were the pampered darlings of the society—elevated on pedestals away from the cares of the workaday world and guarded against all unpleasantness. One of them was Eleanor Roosevelt, daughter of a well-to-do family, bearer of a distinguished name, favored by fortune in every respect. <<P> But the casual observers did not know the inner turmoil in such women's lives. Nor could they sense the emptiness that :',was the result of lacking a worthy function in the world. Eleanor, like other women of her class, was self-educated and free of material cares. In accordance with expectations, she made an acceptable marriage. She bore an appropriate number ',Of children. But sooner or later she had to confront a problem tethers did not: what to do with herself. Her life thereafter was a long complex process of discovery.

And then the world crowded in upon her. Her life extended across three wars of mounting intensity, across depressions and profound political andeconomicchanges. Soon enough she became familiar with the misery of the millions of her fellow countrymen and women not as well situated as she. Sensitivity to their situation drew her away from the sheltered round of social activities expected of women in her class.

Eleanor's position as daughter of a well-known family and as wife of a rising politician in Washington and in Albany prepared her for her role as First Lady after her husband's election to the Presidency in 1932. From that vantage point she gained insight into twentiethcentury social problems and steadily expanded the scope of her interests. But her significance did not hinge entirely upon Franklin Delano Roosevelt's position. For years after his death she continued to explore the meaning of her Americanism and her role as a woman sensitive to the needs of changing times. Professor Youngs's thoughtful account provides a moving description, both personal and social, of the forces that transformed the twentieth-century world.

Oscar Handlin

Preface to the Second Edition

Since the publication in 1985 of Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, scores of new books and articles have explored the life and legacy of America's preeminent First Lady. In various ways this second edition reflects the new scholarship. The "Note on the Sources" has been expanded to include some of the most important additions to the Eleanor Roosevelt bibliography. These include volumes of Roosevelt's own writings, general histories, topical essays, and a book-length bibliography.

At a few places in the text of the second edition I have included additional material culled from these works. The amended sections include material on Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok, her stance on the Equal Rights Amendment, her contributions to civil rights, her wartime activities, and her postwar liberalism. The fundamental design of the book remains as it was in the first edition. When I wrote Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, I intended to draw a portrait that would explore Eleanor's public career within the framework of her personal growth, including her childhood and her intimate life as an adult.

The era of the Monica Lewinsky scandal has brought to the fore a journalistic intrusiveness undreamed of in Eleanor Roosevelt's lifetime. Arguably, Eleanor's extraordinary legacy in public life was made possible in part by her ability to maintain a sphere of privacy around her personal life—although as her fame grew, that sphere contracted. Fortunately for students of history, Eleanor and her friends left an abundant record of her personal life, to be explored for the most part after her death.

Since the initial publication of Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life, the book has acquired new life in several electronic forms. It is available as a recording, in a superb reading by Donada Peters for Books on Tape. For the second edition I am preparing material for a site on the World Wide Web, where I will include photographs and new information on such topics as the debate over Eleanor Roosevelt's stance on women's rights. The URL for the site is www.narhist.ewu.edu/er/er.html. My own e-mail address is jyoungs@ewu.edu—like most authors, I am always glad to receive mail with observations and questions about my writing.

J. William T. Youngs
Cheney, 1999

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Enlightening

    A work of the most reknowned woman of the 21st century. I am not a huge fan of biographies but it pictured Eleanor in a great light. It also showed that not everyone liked her. She was truly a rock of her time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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