Jean Edward Smith
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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.
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.
Grandmother Hall was only forty-eight at the time, and, as Eleanor remembers, discipline was strict. “We were brought up on the principle that ‘no’ was easier to say than ‘yes.’ ”38 Eleanor was tutored in French, German, and music. She studied piano, attended classes in dancing and ballet, and was taken regularly to the theater. Her uncles taught her riding, jumping, lawn tennis, and how to shoot. As one biographer has noted, the six years Eleanor spent with Grandmother Hall were a time of
Treasury was aware of that; Ickes, who had been named petroleum coordinator, was aware; and so was the State Department. “The President’s chief objective in the Pacific for the time being,” Sumner Welles told his British counterpart, Sir Alexander Cadogan, at Argentia, “is the avoidance of war with Japan.”42 The export licenses Japan required fell under the jurisdiction of the interdepartmental Foreign Funds Control Committee, a subcabinet body chaired by Assistant Secretary of State Dean
built 96,318 planes—more than the yearly total of Germany, Japan, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union combined. Henry Ford’s enormous Willow Run plant produced a B-24 every sixty-three minutes. By war’s end the United States had manufactured 2.4 million trucks, 635,000 jeeps, 88,400 tanks, 5,800 ships, and 40 billion rounds of ammunition. Quantity was the all-important goal of the war effort. American industry thrived on high-volume output performed on an assembly-line basis. No other
W. Norton, 1973). 69. Michael F. Reilly and William J. Slocum, Reilly of the White House 179 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1947). 70. FRUS, Cairo and Teheran 483. “Bohlen Minutes,” Roosevelt-Stalin meeting, 3 P.M., November 28, 1943. 71. Bohlen, Witness to History 136. 72. Ibid. 139. 73. Ibid. 142. 74. Combined Chiefs of Staff Minutes, November 28, 1943, in FRUS, Cairo and Teheran 497. 75. Bohlen Supplementary Memorandum, November 28, 1943, ibid. 513. 76. In the years before the Treaty of
collector of customs of the Port of New York. Both were prime appointments, particularly the collector’s post, which would have provided FDR with a vast patronage base were he interested in running for statewide office in New York. Roosevelt was appreciative but noncommittal. McAdoo’s offer was too good to turn down, but he still hoped for the post at Navy. Two days later, on the morning of the inauguration, Roosevelt ran into Josephus Daniels in the cavernous lobby of the Willard. As Daniels