FDR

FDR

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by Jean Edward Smith, Richard McGonagle
     
 

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One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.

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Overview

One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.

This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details. We see how Roosevelt’s restless energy, fierce intellect, personal magnetism, and ability to project effortless grace permitted him to master countless challenges throughout his life. Smith recounts FDR’s battles with polio and physical disability, and how these experiences helped forge the resolve that FDR used to surmount the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the wartime threat of totalitarianism. Here also is FDR’s private life depicted with unprecedented candor and nuance, with close attention paid to the four women who molded his personality and helped to inform his worldview: His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, formidable yet ever supportive and tender; his wife, Eleanor, whose counsel and affection were instrumental to FDR’s public and individual achievements; Lucy Mercer, the great romantic love of FDR’s life; and Missy LeHand, FDR’s longtime secretary, companion, and confidante, whose adoration of her boss was practically limitless.

Smith also tackles head-on and in-depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelt’s public career, including his disastrous attempt to reconstruct the Judiciary; the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans; and Roosevelt’s occasionally self-defeating Executive overreach. Additionally, Smith offers a sensitive and balanced assessment of Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust, noting its breakthroughs and shortcomings.

Summing up Roosevelt’s legacy, Jean Smith declares that FDR, more than any other individual, changed the relationship between the American people and their government. It was Roosevelt who revolutionized the art of campaigning and used the burgeoning mass media to garner public support and allay fears. But more important, Smith gives us the clearest picture yet of how this quintessential Knickerbocker aristocrat, a man who never had to depend on a paycheck, became the common man’s president. The result is a powerful account that adds fresh perspectives and draws profound conclusions about a man whose story is widely known but far less well understood. Written for the general reader and scholars alike, FDR is a stunning biography in every way worthy of its subject.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

This magisterial, gracefully crafted biography immerses us again in the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), a chief executive generally regarded as one of the foremost in our history. Only Lincoln and Washington are the subjects of more biographies than FDR, but Smith manages to present the epoch of the four-term president with refreshing adroitness. Never descending into mere hagiography, he recounts Roosevelt's grievous mistakes (the packing of the Supreme Court, Japanese-American internments) as well as his numerous domestic and wartime achievements. He tracks his subject as FDR sheds his Duchess County provincialism and becomes a national political figure, despite crippling poliomyelitis. A timely addition to the debates about presidential legacies.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739343449
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/15/2007
Edition description:
Abridged, 7 CDs, 8 hours
Product dimensions:
5.07(w) x 5.92(h) x 1.08(d)

Meet the Author

Jean Edward Smith is the author of twelve books, including the highly acclaimed biographies Grant (a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times Notable Book), John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (a New York Times Notable Book), and Lucius D. Clay: An American Life (a New York Times Notable Book). A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University, Smith taught at the University of Toronto thirty-five years before joining the faculty at Marshall University, where he is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science.

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FDR 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
fdr is a very well crafted biography, it has tremendous balance between everything fdr had to juggle during his 12 years in office. there is no doubt that fdr had the most adversety to deal with from the great depression to hitler and the nazis to pearl harbor and wwii, all while dealing with his handicap. after reading this book the legacy of franklin roosevelt will be drilled in your brain forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best biography of perhaps the greatest president of modern time. Jean Edward Smith has given us a classic. How could a man born of wealth, social standing and privilege understand the needs of the poor and ordinary man? Yet FDR did. He quickly saw the devastation of the pre Depression time and the resulting impact of the Depression as it spread. Anyone who lived during that time readily credits FDR with saving them and the nation. From Depresstion to World War II, FDR again rose to the occasion. Although the ultimate politician, he knew the heart of America. This book should be required reading for ALL political candidates and especially those seeking the presidency. They might learn something. God knows they need to!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. If you enjoy history at all, read this book.
rwmatse More than 1 year ago
I am just about finished reading this tome. Most of the presidential biographies I have read as slow-going and contain way too much detail on certain topics, such as going into minute detail of a piece of legislation (who sponsored it, why they sponsored, back room dealing, names of everyone even remotely involved, belabored discussion). This book reads differently, almost like a historical novel. It contains interesting facts, just enough information about issues and situation without getting bogged down in details. (vast majority of the time). It even includes many photos, which I like. (I've read some bios where there is not a single image of the president ...??). I like this author's style, and have purchased his biography of "Eisenhower in War and Peace", hoping it will read as easily as FDR.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall this book was very well done. It really gave a deep view into FDR's life and the relationships he developed with many of his colleagues, companions, and family members that came and went throughout his life. For example, like Louis Howe, Sara, ER and Lucy just to name a few. The only qualm I had with the book was the ending which I thought a bit abrupt and not as meaningful as it could have been. This particular reader would have liked to see an extra chapter/epilogue or even just a few more pages wrapping up FDR's death and subsequently rehashing the importance of this particular president for these United States. Further reactions from ordinary Americans, and especially ER, to Roosevelt's passing would have been a nice touch as well. In any case, the book was thoroughly entertaining and chalk full of knowledge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am astonished that this masterful biography has not made it to the best seller list. Mr. Smith should be considered once more for the Pulitzer Prize for writing such a comprehensive, yet readable book about the life of one of our greatest presidents. Mr. Smith gives one a complete picture of the strengths, weaknesses, errors and courage of FDR, his family and his political advisers. The author offers insights into the experiences and mistakes that made Franklin Roosevelt a consummate politician, one dedicated to the welfare of the average citizen. At a time when our democracy is becoming an aristocracy, reading about a man who cared for the citizens with the least, rather than the enrichment of just a few, gives one a perspective into what democracy can and did mean.
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A great bio about the great man. Jean Edward Smith writes page turning history. Its one of the books you won't want to put down until you finish.
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Although the book (thankfully) does not go into great detail about all of the policies FDR put into place and about the decisions he made during WWII, it does give a great overview of FDR's life and what he did while President.
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