This is a great book about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt And their unusual partnership during the Depression and World War II. It also answers a lot of questions. What kind of parents were Franklin and Eleanor? Did Franklin choose or did the party shove him into a third term? Was Eleanor more interested in black people or was Franklin? Which was the more popular? Was Sara Delano Roosevelt European aristocracy? Which one was the best politician? This is an excellent, very well researched only primary sources were used i.e. interviews with 2 of Franklin and Eleanor's sons, grandchildren and many who knew them as well as letters, diaries and government documents. This is a very detailed book about Franklin and Eleanor. I felt like I was really there with the Roosevelts. The Depression and World War II changed the way Americans expected their government to be. During World WAr 2 large numbers of blacks were invited to the White House and huge gains were made by blacks in social integration because both Roosevelts believed that blacks were equal to whites and should be treated in every way as equals.Likewise many poor whites joined the middle class.
A long and detailed study of the war years, including details about both the bad times and good times in their marriage. As is she is known for, the research is exhaustive (she obtained some good interviews) and the story is told in a readable text (with many, many endnotes pinpointing where verification of specific statements can be found). I am reminded how glad everyone was when the polio vaccine first became available when I read of FDR's paralysis that came upon him over a few hours after swimming with his kids at Campobello. We schoolkids participated in the March of Dimes in the 1950s and knew of the iron lung. It is also interesting that FDR came back from his rehabiliation as such a better man. "Labor Secretary Frances Perkins observed, 'The man emerged completely warmhearted, with new humility of spirit and a firmer understanding of profound philosophical concepts.'" I tried to read a biography of FDR thirty years or so ago and he was such a prig (in my opinion) that I could not even finish the history of his college days.
I found the photos well chosen, especially when I recalled Mrs. Roosevelt's famous smile that I remember from the 1950s. Also I did not know that FDR was such a loyal churchgoer or how much he liked to both work and relax in his 2nd floor office.
Nor did I realize how significant Mrs. Roosevelt's speech to the 1940 Democratic Convention was or that James A. Farley broke with FDR over the issue of the third term.
"For the rest of her life, her son Elliott observed, Eleanor 'chose to remember only the lovely times they shared, never the estrangement and pain.' She loved to quote word for word things they had told one another. She kept up the traditions he had established for the family--including the picnic on the Fourth of July and the reading of Dickens at Christmas. Maureen Corr, Eleanor's secretary during the forties and fifties, remembers her 'constantly talking about what Franklin did or Franklin said or...how Franklin thought about this or that. And every time she mentioned his name you could hear the emotion in her voice and see the glow in her eyes.'"
Diagram of 2nd floor of the White House, Bibliography, Index.