Roosevelt's Navy: The Education of a Warrior President, 1882-1920

Overview

FDR as never seen before: His formative years as Woodrow Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy, evolving from political neophyte to visionary leader.This is the story of a very different Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the one usually found in the history books. This is a much younger, untested FDR, a physically active, pre-polio FDR, as seen during his early years in Washington, learning the complexities of gaining and exercising power as Woodrow Wilson’s ambitious Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He arrives ...
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Roosevelt's Navy: The Education of a Warrior President, 1882-1920

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Overview

FDR as never seen before: His formative years as Woodrow Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy, evolving from political neophyte to visionary leader.This is the story of a very different Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the one usually found in the history books. This is a much younger, untested FDR, a physically active, pre-polio FDR, as seen during his early years in Washington, learning the complexities of gaining and exercising power as Woodrow Wilson’s ambitious Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He arrives in Washington as a somewhat shallow, inexperienced political neophyte possessed of little more than a famous name, but by the time he leaves the Navy eight years later he will have transformed himself into a seasoned professional, wise to the ways of power, a visionary ready and eager to take his place on the world stage.FDR’s early years in Washington also include the most tumultuous period in his personal life, when, caught in a difficult marriage, he is forced to choose between his own personal happiness and his towering political ambitions. He must deal at close quarters with Congress, with the Administration, with the military, with big business. Lastly, but crucially, he confronts himself, learning something about his potential, his limitations, and his ambition. Such self-knowledge is perhaps the most valuable single gift that a leader of a democracy can hope for.
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Editorial Reviews

The Boston Globe

A rousing maritime history. The real life equivalent of a Patrick O’Brian novel.

The New York Times Book Review

Gripping suspense and excitement. History that reads like a historical novel.

Publishers Weekly
Focusing on a pre-presidency Franklin Delano Roosevelt, de Kay's (A Rage for Glory) excellent and engaging character study begins by recounting the young boy's fascination with distant cousin Theodore Roosevelt and his thrilling book The Naval War of 1812, and ends with his unsuccessful bid for the vice-presidency in 1920, focusing throughout on FDR's abiding interest in naval warfare, and his development as an individual and a politician. In an elegantly sparing style, de Kay takes readers through Roosevelt's transformation from bellicose neophyte—in 1914 when war with Mexico seemed unavoidable, FDR was "thrilled by the news" and "prepared to rattle his saber" in support—to a more somber man of experience, who famously declared in 1936, "I hate war." Roosevelt is additionally revealed through his letters, where he is at times surprisingly witty and sardonic—writing to Eleanore in 1914, Roosevelt remarked that a certain government official, in response to the current crisis in Europe, was "feeling chiefly very sad that his faith in human nature and civilization and similar idealistic nonsense was receiving such a rude shock." Despite the cynicism, Roosevelt remains principled and dedicated to his country. For fans of biographies and political history, de Kay's newest is an expertly crafted work of intense focus and broad appeal. Photos. (Mar.)
Boston Globe
“A rousing maritime history. The real life equivalent of a Patrick O’Brian novel.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A must for Civil War buffs and casual readers alike.”
Naval War College Review
“Scholarship and analysis are the hallmarks of de Kay’s work.”
New York Times Book Review
“Gripping suspense and excitement. History that reads like a historical novel.”
Kirkus Reviews
Long before he steered the country through both the Depression and World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) was a headstrong fellow who knew what he wanted, played for keeps and mastered the art of taking charge. FDR inspires the love of biographers, and naval historian de Kay (A Rage for Glory: The Life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN, 2007, etc.) can lay on his ardor with a trowel. Nonetheless, his book, focused on Roosevelt's first forays into public office, tells a convincing story of how a privileged young man proved he was as good as his famous name. Starting political life as a New York state senator, he ran afoul of Boss Charles F. Murphy of Tammany Hall when he backed the wrong horse for a U.S. Senate seat. As a "crusader for good government," he gained the approval of Woodrow Wilson, the newly elected and equally reform-minded New Jersey governor who would soon become president. As Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR, a naval enthusiast from boyhood, tackled his new role with the plucky presumption of a young man who was sure he ought to be running the place. FDR was hawkish on America's entry into World War I, frequently locking horns with his boss, Josephus Daniels, and his commander in chief. De Kay is sympathetic to FDR as a bull-headed problem-solver who let nothing stand in his way where his Navy was concerned, the man who took the initiative on numerous major wartime projects. The author is also fair in noting FDR's overreach, his ego and his gambler's instinct--whether it meant having a potentially career-wrecking affair with his wife's secretary or making an ill-advised run for the Senate. A highly readable, somewhat fawning, ultimately credible biography of an ambitious, energetic risk-taker.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984094
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 2/13/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 947,009
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James Tertius de Kayhaswritten a number of well-received books of American naval history:Chronicles of the Frigate Macedonian;Monitor; andA Rage for Glory. He lives in Pawcatuck, Connecticut.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2012

    A wonderful read for history buffs and casual readers alike.

    An absolutely wonderful glimpse into the upbringing and education of FDR. Mr. de Kay has done such an incredible job of highlighting the decisions the late president made as a young man, the plan he had for himself, and the impact that his distant cousin made on him. As stated in a review, the book reads so much like a fictitious novel, and is very hard to put down even when concluding a chapter.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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