The Fall Of The House Of Roosevelt

The Fall Of The House Of Roosevelt

by Michael Janeway
     
 

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In the 1930s a band of smart and able young men, some still in their twenties, helped Franklin D. Roosevelt transform an American nation in crisis. They were the junior officers of the New Deal. Thomas G. Corcoran, Benjamin V. Cohen, William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, and James Rowe helped FDR build the modern Democratic Party into a progressive coalition whose

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Overview

In the 1930s a band of smart and able young men, some still in their twenties, helped Franklin D. Roosevelt transform an American nation in crisis. They were the junior officers of the New Deal. Thomas G. Corcoran, Benjamin V. Cohen, William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, and James Rowe helped FDR build the modern Democratic Party into a progressive coalition whose command over power and ideas during the next three decades seemed politically invincible.

This is the first book about this group of Rooseveltians and their linkage to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the Vietnam War debacle. Michael Janeway grew up inside this world. His father, Eliot Janeway, business editor of Time and a star writer for Fortune and Life magazines, was part of this circle, strategizing and practicing politics as well as reporting on these men. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of events and previously unavailable private letters and other documents, Janeway crafts a riveting account of the exercise of power during the New Deal and its aftermath. He shows how these men were at the nexus of reform impulses at the electoral level with reform thinking in the social sciences and the law and explains how this potent fusion helped build the contemporary American state. Since that time efforts to reinvent government by "brains trust" have largely failed in the U.S. In the last quarter of the twentieth century American politics ceased to function as a blend of broad coalition building and reform agenda setting, rooted in a consensus of belief in the efficacy of modern government.

Can a progressive coalition of ideas and power come together again? The Fall of the House of Roosevelt makes such a prospect both alluring and daunting.

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Editorial Reviews

H-New Deal
Gracefully written narrative... it makes many wise observations about American politics during and after the age of Roosevelt.

— Alonzo L. Hamby

American Historical Review
This book offers a useful portrait of an era that may seem less complex but really wasn't.

— Bruce M. Stave

New York Times Book Review - Michael Beschloss
Janeway dutifully navigates the ideological differences that developed among the New Dealers and the ways in which the Democratic Party later moved away from their crowd. But this book is far more interesting and original as a biographical study of what human beings will do to acquire great power and try to hold onto it—especially after their time has passed.... Janeway's volume is almost a kind of "New Deal Confidential."... Janeway's book is a reminder that even monument makers can have feet of clay.

Chicago Tribune - Ted Widmer
[The Fall of the House of Roosevelt's] elegiac tone, its penetrating insights and its evocation of a world when politics truly mattered should find a warm welcome among readers eager to define a new American Century.

New York Times - Christopher Caldwell
[A] bittersweet family memoir and a fresh interpretation of the New Deal.

The New Leader - William Lasser
[A]n engaging book.

Washington Times - John S. Monagan
Janeway has given us a wide-ranging, well-considered, deeply researched and engaging study of Democratic Party developments in the FDR years and succeeding regencies. His thoughtful and penetrating review of the operations of party stalwarts furnishes potent cause for concern to anyone interested in the future of the Democratic Party and of the country.

Los Angeles Times - Merle Rubin
Containing new material and written from a particularly privileged vantage point,The Fall of the House of Roosevelt is a valuable contribution to New Deal history.

Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer - Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett
At the heart ofFall of the House of Roosevelt is a thoughtful man's attempt to understand his enigmatic father, and the portions of the book focusing on this pursuit are the author's best work.

National Post Toronto - Robert Fulford
earlier American liberalism springs back to life in a remarkable new book,The Fall of the House of Roosevelt

American Prospect - David Greenberg
With fresh detail and affecting vignettes, rendered in beautiful, evocative prose, Janeway captures the New Dealer's keenness for action.

The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - Lewis L. Gould
For its insights, balanced tone, and thorough research, this accessible volume will provide stimulating analysis for those readers in the twenty-first century.

H-New Deal - Alonzo L. Hamby
Gracefully written narrative... it makes many wise observations about American politics during and after the age of Roosevelt.

American Historical Review - Bruce M. Stave
This book offers a useful portrait of an era that may seem less complex but really wasn't.

Choice
Janeway's personal memories of these men and his unique access...allow him to make an important contribution to the study of the exercise of power during the New Deal...Highly recommended. All levels and libraries.

New York Times Book Review
Janeway dutifully navigates the ideological differences that developed among the New Dealers and the ways in which the Democratic Party later moved away from their crowd. But this book is far more interesting and original as a biographical study of what human beings will do to acquire great power and try to hold onto it — especially after their time has passed.... Janeway's volume is almost a kind of "New Deal Confidential."... Janeway's book is a reminder that even monument makers can have feet of clay.

— Michael Beschloss

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
The Fall of the House of Roosevelt is a fascinating personal perspective on the New Deal and its aftermath. Michael Janeway's book is an elegant contribution to political as well as to personal history.

Booklist
With both eloquence and a sense of regret, Janeway describes an era in which both the populace and the elites generally assumed that government and governmental activism were positive forces of good.... this well-written and valuable examination of the evolution of our body politic is very worthwhile.

Chicago Tribune
[ The Fall of the House of Roosevelt's] elegiac tone, its penetrating insights and its evocation of a world when politics truly mattered should find a warm welcome among readers eager to define a new American Century.

— Ted Widmer

New York Times
[A] bittersweet family memoir and a fresh interpretation of the New Deal.

— Christopher Caldwell

The New Leader
[A]n engaging book.

— William Lasser

Washington Times
Janeway has given us a wide-ranging, well-considered, deeply researched and engaging study of Democratic Party developments in the FDR years and succeeding regencies. His thoughtful and penetrating review of the operations of party stalwarts furnishes potent cause for concern to anyone interested in the future of the Democratic Party and of the country.

— John S. Monagan

Los Angeles Times
Containing new material and written from a particularly privileged vantage point, The Fall of the House of Roosevelt is a valuable contribution to New Deal history.

— Merle Rubin

Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer
At the heart of Fall of the House of Roosevelt is a thoughtful man's attempt to understand his enigmatic father, and the portions of the book focusing on this pursuit are the author's best work.

— Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett

National Post Toronto
earlier American liberalism springs back to life in a remarkable new book, The Fall of the House of Roosevelt

— Robert Fulford

American Prospect
With fresh detail and affecting vignettes, rendered in beautiful, evocative prose, Janeway captures the New Dealer's keenness for action.

— David Greenberg

The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
For its insights, balanced tone, and thorough research, this accessible volume will provide stimulating analysis for those readers in the twenty-first century.

— Lewis L. Gould

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231131094
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
07/01/2006
Series:
Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
316
Product dimensions:
0.66(w) x 6.14(h) x 9.21(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Nicholas Lemann

The Fall of the House of Roosevelt sheds fresh light on two of the most important presidencies of the twentieth century, Franklin Roosevelt's and Lyndon Johnson's--Roosevelt's by reminding us how important the wheeling-dealing element of the New Deal was, and Johnson's by making it clear that a group of powerful men around him perceived it as a New Deal restoration. This is an affecting, wise and self-aware family memoir that is also a fascinating portrait of an under-chronicled coterie whose members started out as bright young idealists and wound up as something far less attractive.

Nicholas Lemann, author of The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America

Frances FitzGerald

Michael Janeway's book is a fascinating, intimate portrait of the men who made the New Deal, from William O. Douglas to Lyndon Johnson. It's a family memoir as well as a history, for the author's father was one of them, a brilliant complicated man who knew everyone's secrets but kept his own past secret even from his children. This wonderfully well-written book is moving as well as well as revealing.

Frances FitzGerald, author of Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War

Nicholas Lemann
The Fall of the House of Roosevelt sheds fresh light on two of the most important presidencies of the twentieth century, Franklin Roosevelt's and Lyndon Johnson's—Roosevelt's by reminding us how important the wheeling-dealing element of the New Deal was, and Johnson's by making it clear that a group of powerful men around him perceived it as a New Deal restoration. This is an affecting, wise and self-aware family memoir that is also a fascinating portrait of an under-chronicled coterie whose members started out as bright young idealists and wound up as something far less attractive.

Alan Brinkley

A sensitive and engaging portrait that conveys the energy, commitment and ambition that first brought together and then split apart an extraordinary network of people. Janeway's compelling description of his own father's role within the world of New Deal liberals is invaluable in suggesting how these men and women exercised influence in a now largely vanished political world. The Fall of the House of Roosevelt is a book of great importance to scholars as well as to the larger public.

Alan Brinkley, author of The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War

Laura Kalman

Michael Janeway brilliantly conveys the sense of what it was to be a New Deal insider and operator in a mesmerizing and moving group biography and family memoir. This book will make even the most jaded New Deal experts understand the period in an entirely new way.

Laura Kalman, author of Abe Fortas: A Biography

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Meet the Author

Michael Janeway is professor of journalism and arts at Columbia University and is the author of Republic of Denial: Press, Politics, and Public Life. He has been special assistant to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, editor of The Boston Globe, and dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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