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The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right
     

The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right

by Sally Denton
 

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In March 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally became the nation's thirty-second president. The man swept in by a landslide four months earlier now took charge of a country in the grip of panic brought on by economic catastrophe. Though no one yet knew it-not even Roosevelt-it was a radical moment in America. And with all of its unmistakable resonance with events

Overview

In March 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally became the nation's thirty-second president. The man swept in by a landslide four months earlier now took charge of a country in the grip of panic brought on by economic catastrophe. Though no one yet knew it-not even Roosevelt-it was a radical moment in America. And with all of its unmistakable resonance with events of today, it is a cautionary tale.


The Plots Against the President follows Roosevelt as he struggled to right the teetering nation, armed with little more than indomitable optimism and the courage to try anything. His bold New Deal experiments provoked a backlash from both extremes of the political spectrum. Wall Street bankers threatened by FDR's policies made common cause with populist demagogues like Huey Long and Charles Coughlin. But just how far FDR's enemies were willing to go to thwart him has never been fully explored.


Two startling events that have been largely ignored by historians frame Sally Denton's swift, tense narrative of a year of fear: anarchist Giuseppe Zangara's assassination attempt on Roosevelt, and a plutocrats' plot to overthrow the government that would come to be known as the Wall Street Putsch. The Plots Against the President throws light on the darkest chapter of the Depression and the moments when the fate of the American republic hung in the balance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two weeks before FDR’s 1933 inauguration, an assassin fired five shots at him, narrowly missing. A year later, a retired general claimed several wealthy businessmen had asked him join a plot to overthrow the government. The media treated it as a joke, but historian and public policy expert Denton’s research indicates otherwise. The failed assassin, an unemployed bricklayer, probably acted alone, and the “Wall Street Putsch” never went beyond preliminary plotting. Denton (The Pink Lady) surrounds these events with a stirring, laudatory history of FDR’s first year in office, during which he revived a despairing nation’s confidence, promoted legislation setting up a social safety net, which is still with us. But he also placed restrictions on banks and securities trading, denounced by businessmen in stunningly familiar words (they called him a Communist and a fascist). Many of FDR’s innovations were repealed during the 1980s with what Denton sees as unpleasant consequences. Denton traces today’s right-wing “paranoid style” to the nascent fascist movement that opposed Roosevelt, although she fails to promote these plots to more than historical footnotes. But Denton has written a well-researched, if nostalgic, account of an era when people looked to the government for help, and it obliged. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Investigative journalist Denton (Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas, 2009, etc.) follows critical moments in the career of four-term president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, demonized by far left and far right, escaped an assassin's bullet and a bizarre coup plot. In this tale of a popular president, resentful Wall Street bankers and wacko wing-nuts, the author has found a story whose parallels to today are eerie--perhaps more starkly than they merit because of the prominence she awards them. She focuses on two episodes: the gunshots fired by Giuseppe Zangara at FDR in 1933 following a speech in Miami and the crack-brained coup attempt supposedly spearheaded by bond trader Gerald MacGuire, who was fronting for some conservative powerhouse businessmen who were unhappy with FDR's early financial moves. MacGuire had approached war hero Marine General Smedley Darlington Butler about his plot; aghast, Butler listened and then blew the whistle. Subsequently--and perhaps consequently?--FDR cracked down even harder on Wall Street and the banks. Denton's research, though wide and deep, suffers some because she could find out nothing of consequence about assassination threats from the close-mouthed Secret Service--though she does credit the FBI for cooperation. Additionally, she spends so many pages summarizing the political rise, personal life and early presidency of FDR that the title of the book sometimes seems misrepresentative. Demonstrates how political popularity has a bitter, resentful relative who acts as if elections are valid only when his side wins--and who sometimes packs heat.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608193592
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
916,463
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Sally Denton is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. Her books include Passion and Principle, American Massacre, Faith and Betrayal, The Bluegrass Conspiracy, and The Money and the Power (cowritten with Roger Morris). She is a Guggenheim fellow and a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. She lives in New Mexico.


Sally Denton is an awardwinning author and investigative journalist. Her books include Passion and Principle, American Massacre, Faith and Betrayal, The Bluegrass Conspiracy, and The Money and the Power (co-written with Roger Morris). She is a Guggenheim fellow and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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