Eleanor vs. Ike (A+ Series)
  • Eleanor vs. Ike (A+ Series)
  • Eleanor vs. Ike (A+ Series)

Eleanor vs. Ike (A+ Series)

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by Robin Gerber
     
 

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It is a time of turmoil, with the nation mired in an unpopular war in Korea and with Senator Joseph McCarthy stirring up fear of a lurking Communist "menace." Racial discrimination is rampant. A woman's place is in the home. And when a shocking act of God eliminates the Democratic presidential nominee, the party throws its support to an unlikely standard bearer:

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Overview

It is a time of turmoil, with the nation mired in an unpopular war in Korea and with Senator Joseph McCarthy stirring up fear of a lurking Communist "menace." Racial discrimination is rampant. A woman's place is in the home. And when a shocking act of God eliminates the Democratic presidential nominee, the party throws its support to an unlikely standard bearer: former First Lady and goodwill ambassador to the world Eleanor Roosevelt.

Captivating and fast-paced, Eleanor vs. Ike pits the unforgettable Eleanor against the enormously popular war hero Gen. Dwight David ("Ike") Eisenhower. But while the opponents promise "an honest campaign," their strategists mire the race in scandal and bitter innuendo. Suddenly Eleanor finds herself a target of powerful insiders who mean to destroy her good name—and Ku Klux Klan assassins dedicated to her death—as she gets caught up in a mad whirl of appearances and political maneuvering . . . and a chance encounter with a precocious five-year-old named Hillary Rodham.

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Editorial Reviews

James MacGregor Burns
“A fascinating combination of truth and fantasy…a brilliant fictional recreation”
Steny Hoyer
"the plausibility of [Eleanor Roosevelt’s] candidacy is what kept me turning the pages to see if she would beat Eisenhower!"
Dee Dee Myers
“I could hardly put the book down as Eleanor’s “what if” political campaign raced toward election day.”
Kitty Kelley
“This timely book... had me rooting for [Eleanor Roosevelt] through every plot-twisting, page-turning minute.”
James Reston
“[Robin Gerber] has written a crackerjack novel that is both politically and historically astute.”
Donna Brazile
“A truly entertaining and thought-provoking novel of what could have been.”
Jay Strattford
“Gerber...skillfully blends biographical facts with imaginative fictionin an eminently readable story, one that’s as character-driven as it is plot-centered.”
Durham-Herald-Sun
"Gerber’s attention to the history of the time…combined with a page-turning plot make this chronicle of a campaign-that-might-have-been an entertaining ride."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland
“the plausibility of [Eleanor Roosevelt’s] candidacy is what kept me turning the pages to see if she would beat Eisenhower!”
Ellen Feldman
“a fast-paced, savvy, and oh-so-timely novel of political maneuvering, sexual politics, and human longing.”
Durham-Herald Sun
“Gerber’s attention to the history of the time…combined with a page-turning plot make this chronicle of a campaign-that-might-have-been an entertaining ride.”
Publishers Weekly

The author of two leadership manuals-including one deriving its principles from the life and thought of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)-Gerber imagines a what-if for the former first lady in her first novel. In Gerber's fictionalized version of the 1952 Democratic convention, Adlai Stevenson suffers a heart attack and dies on stage moments before he is to accept the nomination. The popular Eleanor, a widow since 1945, is quickly brought in to take his place and run against Eisenhower. Her campaign rallies the support of women, unions and African-Americans, but even her own party doubts that Americans will elect a woman president. There's a sentimental scene in which five-year-old Hillary Rodham meets the former first lady, and a petty scene in which Richard Nixon, then Republican candidate for vice-president, contemplates his dirty fingernails. Eleanor comes across as imperious, intelligent and brave, but clumsy dialogue, historical minutiae and an absence of narrative tension sink the story. The premise is intriguing, though, especially given a former First Lady's run for the nomination. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
This dewy eyed fiction about Eleanor Roosevelt beating Eisenhower to become the first woman president in 1952 makes barely veiled allusions to the current campaign. Eleanor is enjoying her 60s. She's traveling the world for good causes and is romantically, even passionately, involved with a dashing younger man. When President Truman announces he will not seek another term, Adlai Stevenson is the likely Democratic nominee. Ike is a shoo-in for the Republicans. Although a brilliant military strategist, Ike lacks political substance and easily caves to the likes of right-wing Joseph McCarthy. Furthermore, Ike's marriage to alcoholic Mamie is a sham, not unlike FDR's to long-suffering Eleanor. Stevenson, whose wishy-washy commitment to the race has worried Eleanor, drops dead as he is about to accept the nomination. Eleanor is quickly drafted. She accepts the challenge out of pure altruism. With House Speaker Sam Rayburn as her running mate, Eleanor runs her campaign with integrity, surrounded by a coterie of idealists in contrast to the mean-spirited, back-stabbing Republicans. After Ike's running mate Nixon gives a speech about his cocker spaniel "Checkers," Eleanor exposes his political manipulations, outraged that he has emotionally manipulated the American public. J. Edgar Hoover attempts to smear Eleanor with a letter concerning her lesbian love affair, but after Truman burns a letter Ike wrote asking permission to divorce Mamie for Kay Summersby, Ike refuses to use Hoover's dirt. Eleanor outshines Ike in history's first televised presidential debate, and despite conventional wisdom, which says a woman can't win, the race grows too close to call. Even being shot (in the arm) by awould-be assassin won't stop Eleanor. She wins by one electoral vote, having spent Election Day in the Alabama hospital room of an African American who's been brutally attacked for registering voters. That Eleanor, what a saint!Even the most diehard fans of Eleanor-or Hillary Clinton, who makes a cameo appearance-will find the wooden dialogue and preachy pseudo-history nearly unreadable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061373213
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/08/2008
Series:
A+ Series
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Eleanor vs. Ike
A Novel

Chapter One

Eleanor's Choice

Paris, France, January 1952

Lucy was dead. Eleanor Roosevelt sat alone in her suite at the Hôtel de Crillon and looked at the obituary a friend had mailed to her the week before. It was from the newspaper in Aiken, South Carolina, dated January 7, 1952: "Lucy Page Mercer Rutherford, fifty-seven years old, died from complications of kidney disease. Widow of Lord Edward Rutherford."

Eleanor took care to place the clipping inside her diary, tight against the binding. She smoothed the cover, pressing down on it gently, and then she pushed the book a few inches closer to the vase of white long-stem roses that sat in the middle of the side table. Looking up, she stared toward the grand French doors that led to a balcony overlooking the Place de la Concorde and the prized view of Paris that always captivated her. But in her mind's eye she had gone back thirty-four years, to the dressing room in her mother-in-law's house in Manhattan on September 19, 1918.

Every second of that afternoon was seared in her mind. She had just struggled to open Franklin's dome-shaped trunk, its heavy lid straining against the hinges as it fell back. She smiled at its disorder, thinking that her husband must have done his own packing before he left France. She was still wearing her Red Cross dress, having rushed from the army canteen to the dock when she heard about Franklin's condition. Pulling up the simple midcalf skirt, she knelt to reach under and lift a pile of clothes. Franklin's phlegmy cough came from the next room and pricked the worry in her mind. He'd been carried off theLeviathan with double pneumonia according to the doctors, but a terrible influenza had also coursed through the ship. She'd heard some people had died of it during the crossing. What if Franklin had been exposed?

As Eleanor stood, clothes filling her arms, something fell from the pile back into the trunk. She looked down and saw letters addressed in a familiar hand, tied with a white silk ribbon. She knelt again, gently laying the clothes on the floor next to the trunk. Her hand trembled as if she were afraid the packet would explode when she touched it.

The ribbon gave way with a small tug and she pulled the letter from the top envelope, unfolding the stationery with rising dread. She thought she could smell a sweetish scent coming off the tissue-thin paper. "Franklin, dearest . . ." Eleanor's eyes burned suddenly, then blurred with tears. She wiped them quickly with the back of one shaking hand. "Being separated from you is unbearable. I dream of you as I go to sleep and see you in my mind the moment I awaken. Do you remember our last drive in the Shenandoah? That lovely cottage where we were alone for hours in each other's arms?"

Eleanor's stomach turned, vomit rising in her throat. She was certain of the letter's author, yet she couldn't bring herself to look at the signature. Minutes seemed to pass before she lowered her head and saw what she knew would be there, "You have all my love, dearest, as I know I have yours. I only await your safe return, Lucy." The "L" was larger than the other letters and had a flourish, the kind of boldness that Eleanor knew Lucy possessed.

Eleanor's legs had started to shake, and she fell back to sit on the floor. Her feelings were terrifying and familiar. She had lived through the life and death that was love and lies before. She had lived through it over and over again. When she was small, her father, her beloved father, would hold her on his knee, call her "Little Nell," promise to take her away from her scolding mother, promise to take her to the Taj Mahal, promise, promise, promise, and then he would ride away, and she would sit in the window seat and wait for what seemed to a child like all the days that had ever passed. And when her mother yelled at her for believing him, for loving him, for being a foolish, ugly child, she could feel her small sturdy heart twist into a knot that grew tighter and tighter with each betrayal.

Then Franklin, so handsome, so confident, chose her. He told her he loved her and promised himself to her, promised he would love her forever. Only after that did the knot begin to loosen, only then and slowly, as their years together grew.

Suddenly, Eleanor tore the small white Red Cross cap off her head, the hairpins flying in all directions. She pulled frantically at her bun, her chestnut hair falling loose below her shoulders in thick cascades. She drew her knees up to her chest and, as she had done when she sat waiting for her father and couldn't bear her sadness, she pulled the tresses across her face with both hands and wept into their dark and fragrant comfort.

"Eleanor?" Franklin's voice was weak, and the effort to speak brought on a resonant fit of coughing. "Is something wrong?" he managed to croak. She gathered the letters in her hand and rose carefully, not sure that she could stand, and walked with stiff legs into the bedroom. Even in his sickness-induced stupor, Franklin knew that he had never seen such rage and misery on his wife's face.

"Here!" Eleanor swayed and grabbed the bedpost as she threw the letters at his chest. "If you don't want me, Franklin, you don't have to have me. Leave me. Go with her. Go this minute." Her voice rose to a shout, fractured by intermittent sobbing. "You . . . you never loved me, did you? All lies. All these years. How could you do this? How? What of the children? Don't you care about them?"

"What is going on here?" Sara Delano Roosevelt's sharp voice cut through the room as she stood in the doorway behind Eleanor, bewilderment and anger coursing over her features. "Eleanor, whatever is wrong? Franklin must rest, he . . ."

Eleanor vs. Ike
A Novel
. Copyright � by Robin Gerber. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>

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What People are saying about this

Donna Brazile
“A truly entertaining and thought-provoking novel of what could have been.”
Dee Dee Myers
“I could hardly put the book down as Eleanor’s “what if” political campaign raced toward election day.”
Jay Strattford
“Gerber...skillfully blends biographical facts with imaginative fictionin an eminently readable story, one that’s as character-driven as it is plot-centered.”
Kitty Kelley
“This timely book... had me rooting for [Eleanor Roosevelt] through every plot-twisting, page-turning minute.”
James Reston
“[Robin Gerber] has written a crackerjack novel that is both politically and historically astute.”
James MacGregor Burns
“A fascinating combination of truth and fantasy…a brilliant fictional recreation”
Steny Hoyer
“the plausibility of [Eleanor Roosevelt’s] candidacy is what kept me turning the pages to see if she would beat Eisenhower!”

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