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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Edward Herrmann

Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning monumental bestseller, No Ordinary Time, is now available from Encore for only $14.99!

From the bestselling author of Team of Rivals and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, a compelling chronicle of a nation and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. At the center of the country’s transformation was the complex partnership of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Using diaries, interviews, and White House records of the president’s and first lady’s comings and goings, Goodwin paints a detailed, intimate portrait not only of the daily conduct of the presidency during wartime but of the Roosevelts themselves and their extraordinary constellation of friends, advisers, and family, many of whom lived with them in the White House.

Bringing to bear the tools of history and biography as well as her great talent for capturing larger-than-life characters, Goodwin relates the unique story of how Franklin Roosevelt, surrounded by his small circle of intimates, led the nation to military victory abroad against seemingly insurmountable odds and, with Eleanor’s essential help, forever changes the fabric of American society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442367418
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 11/28/2013
Edition description: Abridged
Pages: 6
Sales rank: 460,413
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for LBJ in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. She earned the Lincoln Prize for the runaway bestseller Team of Rivals, the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film Lincoln, and the Carnegie Medal for The Bully Pulpit, the New York Times bestselling chronicle of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, the writer Richard N. Goodwin. Visit her at DorisKearnsGoodwin.com or @DorisKGoodwin.

Edward Herrmann's films include Nixon, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Annie, and The Aviator. On television's Gilmore Girls he starred as the patriarch, Richard Gilmore. He has also appeared on The Good Wife, Law & Order, 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, and Oz. He earned an Emmy Award for The Practice, and remains well-known for his Emmy-nominated portrayals of FDR in Eleanor and Franklin and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years. On Broadway, he won a Tony Award for his performance in Mrs. Warren's Profession.

Hometown:

Concord, MA

Date of Birth:

January 4, 1943

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, NY

Education:

B. A., Colby College; Ph.D., Harvard University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"THE DECISIVE HOUR HAS COME"

On nights filled with tension and concern, Franklin Roosevelt performed a ritual that helped him to fall asleep. He would close his eyes and imagine himself at Hyde Park as a boy, standing with his sled in the snow atop the steep hill that stretched from the south porch of his home to the wooded bluffs of the Hudson River far below. As he accelerated down the hill, he maneuvered each familiar curve with perfect skill until he reached the bottom, whereupon, pulling his sled behind him, he started slowly back up until he reached the top, where he would once more begin his descent. Again and again he replayed this remembered scene in his mind, obliterating his awareness of the shrunken legs inert beneath the sheets, undoing the knowledge that he would never climb a hill or even walk on his own power again. Thus liberating himself from his paralysis through an act of imaginative will, the president of the United States would fall asleep.

The evening of May 9, 1940, was one of these nights. At 11 p.m., as Roosevelt sat in his comfortable study on the second floor of the White House, the long-apprehended phone call had come. Resting against the high back of his favorite red leather chair, a precise reproduction of one Thomas Jefferson had designed for work, the president listened as his ambassador to Belgium, John Cudahy, told him that Hitler's armies were simultaneously attacking Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. The period of relative calm -- the "phony war" that had settled over Europe since the German attack on Poland in September of 1939 -- was over.

For days, rumors of a planned Nazi invasion hadspread through the capitals of Western Europe. Now, listening to Ambassador Cudahy's frantic report that German planes were in the air over the Low Countries and France, Roosevelt knew that the all-out war he feared had finally begun. In a single night, the tacit agreement that, for eight months, had kept the belligerents from attacking each other's territory had been shattered.

As he summoned his military aide and appointments secretary, General Edwin "Pa" Watson, on this spring evening of the last year of his second term, Franklin Roosevelt looked younger than his fifty-eight years. Though his hair was threaded with gray, the skin on his handsome face was clear, and the blue eyes, beneath his pince-nez glasses, were those of a man at the peak of his vitality. His chest was so broad, his neck so thick, that when seated he appeared larger than he was. Only when he was moved from his chair would the eye be drawn to the withered legs, paralyzed by polio almost two decades earlier.

At 12:40 a.m., the president's press secretary, Stephen Early, arrived to monitor incoming messages. Bombs had begun to fall on Brussels, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, killing hundreds of civilians and destroying thousands of homes. In dozens of old European neighborhoods, fires illuminated the night sky. Stunned Belgians stood in their nightclothes in the streets of Brussels, watching bursts of anti-aircraft fire as military cars and motorcycles dashed through the streets. A thirteen-year-old schoolboy, Guy de Liederkirche, was Brussels' first child to die. His body would later be carried to his school for a memorial service with his classmates. On every radio station throughout Belgium, broadcasts summoned all soldiers to join their units at once.

In Amsterdam the roads leading out of the city were crowded with people and automobiles as residents fled in fear of the bombing. Bombs were also falling at Dunkirk, Calais, and Metz in France, and at Chilham, near Canterbury, in England. The initial reports were confusing -- border clashes had begun, parachute troops were being dropped to seize Dutch and Belgian airports, the government of Luxembourg had already fled to France, and there was some reason to believe the Germans were also landing troops by sea.

After speaking again to Ambassador Cudahy and scanning the incoming news reports, Roosevelt called his secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and ordered him to freeze all assets held by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg before the market opened in the morning, to keep any resources of the invaded countries from falling into German hands.

The official German explanation for the sweeping invasion of the neutral lowlands was given by Germany's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Germany, he claimed, had received "proof" that the Allies were engineering an imminent attack through the Low Countries into the German Ruhr district. In a belligerent tone, von Ribbentrop said the time had come for settling the final account with the French and British leaders. Just before midnight, Adolf Hitler, having boarded a special train to the front, had issued the fateful order to his troops: "The decisive hour has come for the fight today decides the fate of the German nation for the next 1000 years."

There was little that could be done that night -- phone calls to Paris and Brussels could rarely be completed, and the Hague wire was barely working -- but, as one State Department official said, "in times of crisis the key men should be at hand and the public should know it." Finally, at 2:40 a.m., Roosevelt decided to go to bed. After shifting his body to his armless wheel chair, he rolled through a door near his desk into his bedroom.

As usual when the president's day came to an end, he called for his valet, Irvin McDuffie, to lift him into his bed. McDuffie, a Southern Negro, born the same year as his boss, had been a barber by trade when Roosevelt met him in Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1927. Roosevelt quickly developed a liking for the talkative man and offered him the job of valet. Now he and his wife lived in a room on the third floor of the White House. In recent months, McDuffie's hard drinking had become a problem: on several occasions Eleanor had found him so drunk that "he couldn't help Franklin to bed." Fearing that her husband might be abandoned at a bad time, Eleanor urged him to fire McDuffie, but the president was unable to bring himself to let his old friend go, even though he shared Eleanor's fear.

McDuffie was at his post in the early hours of May 10 when the president called for help. He lifted the president from his wheelchair onto the narrow bed, reminiscent of the kind used in a boy's boarding school, straightened his legs to their full length, and then undressed him and put on his pajamas. Beside the bed was a white-painted table; on its top, a jumble of pencils, notepaper, a glass of water, a package of cigarettes, a couple of phones, a bottle of nose drops. On the floor beside the table stood a small basket -- the Eleanor basket -- in which the first lady regularly left memoranda, communications, and reports for the president to read -- a sort of private post office between husband and wife. In the corner sat an old-fashioned rocking chair, and next to it a heavy wardrobe filled with the president's clothes. On the marble mantelpiece above the fireplace was an assortment of family photos and a collection of miniature pigs. "Like every room in any Roosevelt house," historian Arthur Schlesinger has written, "the presidential bedroom was hopelessly Victorian -- old-fashioned and indiscriminate in its furnishings, cluttered in its decor, ugly and comfortable."

Outside Roosevelt's door, which he refused to lock at night as previous presidents had done, Secret Service men patrolled the corridor, alerting the guardroom to the slightest hint of movement. The refusal to lock his door was related to the president's dread of fire, which surpassed his fear of assassination or of anything else. The fear seems to have been rooted in his childhood, when, as a small boy, he had seen his young aunt, Laura, race down the stairs, screaming, her body and clothes aflame from an accident with an alc

Table of Contents

Preface

1. "The Decisive Hour Has Come"
2. "A Few Nice Boys with BB Guns"
3. "Back to the Hudson"
4. "Living Here Is Very Oppressive"
5. "No Ordinary Time"
6. "I Am a Juggler"
7. "I Can't Do Anything About Her"
8. "Arsenal of Democracy"
9. "Business As Usual"
10. "A Great Hour to Live"
11. "A Completely Changed World"
12. "Two Little Boys Playing Soldier"
13. "What Can We Do to Help?"
14. "By God, If It Ain't Old Frank!"
15. "We Are Striking Back"
16. "The Greatest Man I Have Ever Known"
17. "It Is Blood on Your Hands"
18. "It Was a Sight I Will Never Forget"
19. "I Want to Sleep and Sleep"
20. "Suspended in Space"
21. "The Old Master Still Had It"
22. "So Darned Busy"
23. "It Is Good to Be Home"
24. "Everybody Is Crying"
25. "A New Country Is Being Born"

Afterword

A Note on Sources
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Points

  1. Goodwin characterizes FDR as a brilliant, energetic, cheerful man who rarely folded under pressure or displayed his innermost feelings. How might the elements of FDR's character and of his time have blended to create a man so successful in marshaling America's forces to defeat the Axis powers? Compare FDR to other wartime presidents such as Lincoln and Nixon. Why is FDR's place in history so secure?
  2. With deft ability, Goodwin brings Eleanor Roosevelt to life. Who was she and what were her concerns? How did she alter America's conception of the role of First Lady? What innovative and lasting contributions did she make to the civil rights movement and to women? Why was she called, during her last years, "the greatest woman in the world"? Compare Eleanor to other prominent First Ladies, such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.
  3. Franklin and Eleanor had a very unconventional marriage, even by today's standards. What bound them? What kept them from living more completely as man and wife? What helped to make them such an extraordinary team? How did the combination of their characters serve to create such a remarkable and successful partnership?
  4. Both Franklin and Eleanor found other people to fill the needs they could not seem to satisfy in one another. Eleanor at various times turned to her daughter, Anna, to Lorena Hickok, and to Joe Lash for her personal needs. What did these three people contribute to Eleanor's life that Franklin either could not or would not? At various times, Franklin relied on Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, Missy LeHand, and Princess Martha of Norway for companionship. What did these women offer him that Eleanor did not? What are the various portraits that emerge of these important characters?
  5. Who are the other people, either personal or political, that populated the Roosevelt years, such as Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins? What were their roles in FDR's life and his presidency?
  6. What characterized the celebrated and remarkable friendship that grew between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill? How did this friendship affect the war's outcome? What was their relationship to Stalin, and how did the three of them function as a united group that served to change the world?
  7. When Eleanor came back from visiting the front, she fell into a deep depression. Goodwin writes, "Nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for the misery she encountered in the hospitals: the mangled bodies, the stomachs ripped by shells, the amputated limbs, the crushed spirits. Only a few photographs of dead American soldiers had appeared in magazines and newspapers since the war began. The Office of War Information, established by Roosevelt, had so sanitized the war experience that few people on the home front understood what the war was really about." What purpose did it serve to keep Americans from truly witnessing the horrors of war? Do you think if Americans had seen, as Eleanor did, the firsthand horrors of war, they would have continued to support the war effort?
  8. In an effort to help European Jews, Roosevelt requested a new war-powers bill that would have given him power to suspend laws that were hampering "the free movement of persons, property, and information." Had it passed, it might have helped open the gates of immigration to Jewish refugees. "Once this was made clear, the bill had no chance," Goodwin writes. "The powerful conservative coalition strengthened immeasurably by the by-elections crushed it." Newsweek observed, "The ugly truth is that anti-Semitism was a definite factor in the bitter opposition to the president's request." Do you think FDR could have done more for the Jews? How as a nation do we reconcile such a horrible fact?
  9. At the end of No Ordinary Time, Goodwin recaps Franklin's presidential career, underscoring his successes as well as his failures. For example, Roosevelt's success in mobilizing the nation was extraordinary However, his forcible relocation of Japanese-Americans during the war was certainly a failure of vision. What are FDR's other successes and failures?
  10. After the war, America emerged as a different, modern nation. Goodwin writes "No segment of American society had been left untouched." Discuss the many strides that were made, as well as the fundamental changes that occurred. For example, as a result of the war, numerous advancements were made on behalf of African-Americans. Additionally, many women continued to work outside the home after the war was over, forever changing the domestic front.
  11. It was truly amazing how America, a nation completely unprepared for war, rose up to become an unprecedented leader in war production. "The figures are all so astronomical that they cease to mean very much," historian Bruce Catton wrote. "The total is simply beyond the compass of one's understanding. Here was displayed a strength greater even than cocky Americans in the old days of unlimited selfconfidence had supposed; strength to which nothing-literally nothing, in the physical sense-was any longer impossible." What does this reveal about America and the spirit of the American people?
  12. Would a presidency like FDR's be possible today? How would the contemporary American public view a relationship such as FDR had with Missy LeHand? How might we as a nation react to a man handicapped as FDR was?
  13. What is the legacy left to us by Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt? Count the ways in which we are indebted to them. How might they feel about contemporary America and its role in the world today? How does it differ from their America? How is it the same?

Recommended Readings
The Greatest of Friends: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Keith Alldritt
It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future, Saul Bellow
Washington Goes to War, David Brinkley
FDR's Fireside Chats, Russell D. Buhite And David W.Levy, eds.
Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, James Macgregor Burns
The Roosevelts: An American Saga, Peter Collier
The Inheritance, Samuel Freedman
Dunkirk: The Complete Story of the First Step in the Defeat of Hitler, Norman Gelb
This Is My Story, Eleanor Roosevelt
A Rendezvous with Destiny: The Roosevelts of the White House , Elliott Roosevelt
The Age of Roosevelt, Vol. I, Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany , William L. Shirer

Introduction

Reading Group Discussion Points
  1. Goodwin characterizes FDR as a brilliant, energetic, cheerful man who rarely folded under pressure or displayed his innermost feelings. How might the elements of FDR's character and of his time have blended to create a man so successful in marshaling America's forces to defeat the Axis powers? Compare FDR to other wartime presidents such as Lincoln and Nixon. Why is FDR's place in history so secure?

  2. With deft ability, Goodwin brings Eleanor Roosevelt to life. Who was she and what were her concerns? How did she alter America's conception of the role of First Lady? What innovative and lasting contributions did she make to the civil rights movement and to women? Why was she called, during her last years, "the greatest woman in the world"? Compare Eleanor to other prominent First Ladies, such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

  3. Franklin and Eleanor had a very unconventional marriage, even by today's standards. What bound them? What kept them from living more completely as man and wife? What helped to make them such an extraordinary team? How did the combination of their characters serve to create such a remarkable and successful partnership?

  4. Both Franklin and Eleanor found other people to fill the needs they could not seem to satisfy in one another. Eleanor at various times turned to her daughter, Anna, to Lorena Hickok, and to Joe Lash for her personal needs. What did these three people contribute to Eleanor's life that Franklin either could not or would not? At various times, Franklin relied on Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, Missy LeHand, and Princess Martha of Norway forcompanionship. What did these women offer him that Eleanor did not? What are the various portraits that emerge of these important characters?

  5. Who are the other people, either personal or political, that populated the Roosevelt years, such as Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins? What were their roles in FDR's life and his presidency?

  6. What characterized the celebrated and remarkable friendship that grew between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill? How did this friendship affect the war's outcome? What was their relationship to Stalin, and how did the three of them function as a united group that served to change the world?

  7. When Eleanor came back from visiting the front, she fell into a deep depression. Goodwin writes, "Nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for the misery she encountered in the hospitals: the mangled bodies, the stomachs ripped by shells, the amputated limbs, the crushed spirits. Only a few photographs of dead American soldiers had appeared in magazines and newspapers since the war began. The Office of War Information, established by Roosevelt, had so sanitized the war experience that few people on the home front understood what the war was really about." What purpose did it serve to keep Americans from truly witnessing the horrors of war? Do you think if Americans had seen, as Eleanor did, the firsthand horrors of war, they would have continued to support the war effort?

  8. In an effort to help European Jews, Roosevelt requested a new war-powers bill that would have given him power to suspend laws that were hampering "the free movement of persons, property, and information." Had it passed, it might have helped open the gates of immigration to Jewish refugees. "Once this was made clear, the bill had no chance," Goodwin writes. "The powerful conservative coalition strengthened immeasurably by the by-elections crushed it." Newsweek observed, "The ugly truth is that anti-Semitism was a definite factor in the bitter opposition to the president's request." Do you think FDR could have done more for the Jews? How as a nation do we reconcile such a horrible fact?

  9. At the end of No Ordinary Time, Goodwin recaps Franklin's presidential career, underscoring his successes as well as his failures. For example, Roosevelt's success in mobilizing the nation was extraordinary However, his forcible relocation of Japanese-Americans during the war was certainly a failure of vision. What are FDR's other successes and failures?

  10. After the war, America emerged as a different, modern nation. Goodwin writes "No segment of American society had been left untouched." Discuss the many strides that were made, as well as the fundamental changes that occurred. For example, as a result of the war, numerous advancements were made on behalf of African-Americans. Additionally, many women continued to work outside the home after the war was over, forever changing the domestic front.

  11. It was truly amazing how America, a nation completely unprepared for war, rose up to become an unprecedented leader in war production. "The figures are all so astronomical that they cease to mean very much," historian Bruce Catton wrote. "The total is simply beyond the compass of one's understanding. Here was displayed a strength greater even than cocky Americans in the old days of unlimited selfconfidence had supposed; strength to which nothing-literally nothing, in the physical sense-was any longer impossible." What does this reveal about America and the spirit of the American people?

  12. Would a presidency like FDR's be possible today? How would the contemporary American public view a relationship such as FDR had with Missy LeHand? How might we as a nation react to a man handicapped as FDR was?

  13. What is the legacy left to us by Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt? Count the ways in which we are indebted to them. How might they feel about contemporary America and its role in the world today? How does it differ from their America? How is it the same?

Recommended Readings

The Greatest of Friends: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Keith Alldritt

It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future, Saul Bellow

Washington Goes to War, David Brinkley

FDR's Fireside Chats, Russell D. Buhite And David W.Levy, eds.

Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, James Macgregor Burns

The Roosevelts: An American Saga, Peter Collier

The Inheritance, Samuel Freedman

Dunkirk: The Complete Story of the First Step in the Defeat of Hitler, Norman Gelb

This Is My Story, Eleanor Roosevelt

A Rendezvous with Destiny: The Roosevelts of the White House , Elliott Roosevelt

The Age of Roosevelt, Vol. I, Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany , William L. Shirer

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No Ordinary Time 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 94 reviews.
BSA441 More than 1 year ago
Doris Kearns Goodwin is a master at entertaining while educating, and in this book she takes the reader on an incredible journey which starts when Nazi Germany seemed unstoppable (1940). We get a detailed view of the Roosevelt White House with its full cast of characters, and never lose sight of the two geniuses, FDR and Eleanor, who were at its core. The author shows in great detail how the war was won by the frantic and urgent conversion of American industry into the " Arsenal of the Free World" and also how those intense fruitful war years also set the stage for the Civil Rights movements of later years. Never dry, the author's keen sense of detail make this era come alive for the reader. This book is highly recommended to any history enthusiast as well as those particularly interested in the World War Two era.
MelissaTexas More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Its 900+ pages. It covered a time I've heard about from parents and grandparents in great detail. The remaking of America into the war machine that saved the world. The sacrifices of the entire population at home and on the battlefields. Also, the dynamic characters of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. A good read if you enjoy history.
JudyinWashington More than 1 year ago
This is a great book whether you are a history buff like me or not. Doris Kearns Goodwin takes the reader behind the scenes in one of the most difficult times in world history. Once you begin reading, it is hard to put the book down.
JackieAnn More than 1 year ago
As a child of a World War II veteran, I found this book fasinating. I never studied what happened during the years prior to Pearl Harbor and also the election of Roosevelt to a third term. All is very interesting. The 900+ pages went fast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should be required reading. Fascinating historically. A peek into the private thoughts and interior lives of the Roosevelts. Debunks a lot of the common myths surrounding them, particularly the president.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It took me awhile to read, as it is so full of information that I had to take notes and go back to check facts as I read. I loved Eleanor even more after this book, and respected Franklin, but didn't like him much. He was a great president, but Eleanor is the one who gave him most of his social policy ideas. An interesting partnership that accomplished much. This gave me a great appreciation for that time in history and I highly recommend it, especially if you didn't live during that time.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Doris Kearns Goodwin did not quite reach the level of her biography of Lincoln in this earlier study of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, but she came close. Although the time frame is the World War II era, she jumps back into their earlier lives to explain their tortured yet strong relationship. She also inserts facts and anecdotes from the home front to illustrate her thesis that the war may have changed America even more than FDR's New Deal programs. Churchill, Stalin, and other world leaders make appearances but Kearns Goodwin always keeps her focus on Franklin and Eleanor and their marriage and interactions with their family and those around them. I write this about six weeks after Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump and the observations about the narrow minded resistance to Eleanor's crusading stance as First Lady seem especially timely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She truly captured the white house, close ties to the whitehouse, as well as personal things relating to this great time in our history
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Unfortunately educational textbooks only give a surface version about the lives and interaction between Franklin and Eleanor. This book peels layer by layer about their relationship (negative and postive) and the reality of what the United States went through pre-war, during and post-war.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin delivers again! This is an insightful book into the Roosevelt Presidency up to and during World War II. This is a great history lesson and it helps you understand why some of the decisions were made.
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