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on September 24, 2004
If you're looking for a "first" Eleanor biography, don't start with this one. Read it eventually, but not at first.

If you have read her collected writings, "No Ordinary Time" or the biography(ies) by Blanche Wiesen Cook this autobiography is a much needed voice. It may not be as engrossing or tantlizing as the others, but it offers a layered look into her history. I struggled with the Wiesen Cook books but ended up enjoying them very much and I would have to say that with out them, this autobiography would not have had such an impact. What she shares in her autobiography is enlightening at times, but what is more significant is the specifics she leaves out or vaguely refers to in the generalist of terms.

The best way to describe this book is comparing it to a long chat with a woman you've respected for a long time. You knew things about her, you heard the rumors, but now you're sitting with her, listening to her tell you how she really felt things happened.
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on February 16, 2006
I bought this book during a visit to Eleanor Roosevelt's Val-Kill Cottage in Hyde Park. I had read Doris Kearn's "No Ordinary Time" years prior and it had stoked an deep interest in me for more on the Roosevelts of Hyde Park. This book is an interesting look at a woman whose transformation impacted the nation and the world. Surely, she is the most interesting and influential woman of the 20th Century.

The book covers a great many historical events as well as personal incidents in her life. The early years give us a glimpse into the thinking of an awkward and self-conscious girl. She guides us through her growing involvement in New York politics. The presidential years are interesting. But I found that reading a book ABOUT Eleanor in those years as opposed to reading her self deprecating and understated views was mor enlightening. The most captivating portions ofthis book were the post presidential years, particularly her roleas a UN Delegage and as Chairman of the Human Rights Commission. I thought the book was good, although I had to keep reminding myself that an autobiography is one person's personal story of events - not the grand history of events.

I am very glad I read her autobiography and read her own words. She is that much more a compelling woman to me. History buffs should not shy away from this book. Immensely readable, with an occasional slow spot.
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on April 20, 2005
This book sheds light a long period of American history through the narration of an amazing woman who you will grow to admire as much as I did. Born into an elite aristocratic American family, Eleanor could have remained hemmed in by the insular values with which she was raised. Women were supposed to stay out of politics, Anglo-Saxons were supposed to run the country and only mingle amongst themselves, and the poor deserved their lot.

Eleanor grew up with a lot of the prejudices someone of her class and generation might be expected to have but then she transformed into a woman who fought tirelessly against poverty, racism, sexism, and injustices of all kinds. I think that is her true legacy and what makes her so remarkable. In a society that wanted women to be purely ornamental, Eleanor could have done as so many women of her age and class did, remain prisoners to their narrow views and beliefs.

But Eleanor did more. Because she was not conventionally attractive, she was supposed to hide away from society. Because she was a woman, she wasn't supposed to get involved in political affairs. But she got involved! She told FDR what she thought about everything, urging him to pass anti-lynching legislation, include more women in his cabinet, and earning his profound respect-if not always his complience!

Sometimes she could be a bit naive, (like when, in the fifties, she told a soviet leader how much Americans had done to improve the "life of the negro", but Eleanor's empathy, compassion, humility and personal strength comes through so strongly in these profoundly human writings of hers that I really think anyone would enjoy them. What a wonderful woman!
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on July 13, 2004
Eleanor Roosevelt's autobiography provides very little information about her life. She vaguely refers to many seemingly important events (such as the death of her father, her husband's presidency) with little emotion and no detail whatsoever. If you know a lot about her and the politics of the time already, it may offer an interesting perspective. If you want to know details of ER's incredibly interesting life, read her biography by Blanch Weisen Cook.
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on March 10, 2005
While reading this book you get to share in the many personal experiences of Eleanor Roosevelt. She does not focus much on her relationships, rather she focuses on sharing her experiences. The places she has gone to and the people she has talked to are absolutley amazing. She shares her firsthand experiences of the mine workers and her talks with people in communist Russia. It is amazing that just one woman has seen and heard from so many varying perspectives. She really did try to empathize with the people and situations around her and this really comes out in her book. I think many people can learn from reading this book on how to be a better listener and observer and critical thinker of the life happening around you.
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"I wanted with all my heart, a peaceful world. And I knew it could never be achieved on a lasting basis without greater understanding between peoples." ~ pg. 413

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) said some pretty interesting things in her lifetime. I've collected many of her quotes as they inspire me. So it was really her motivating words that made me want to read about her life. And what an interesting life she led. Her whole life sounded to me like a life lived in service to others. After reading this book I came away with the impression that Eleanor Roosevelt was a very brave woman who truly wanted to understand the world and sought out every opportunity to do good in some way.

Eleanor Roosevelt lived through two world wars and a serious depression. She was also married to Franklin D. Roosevelt and as a president's wife had many opportunities to influence those in power. I'd say she was one of the most influential people I've ever read about. In this book she records many interesting conversations she had with kings and queens and other world leaders. Even after her husband's death she continued to travel the world meeting with people who had the power to change history.

I found Eleanor Roosevelt's writing style to be cozy and compelling. I was completely captivated by her life in her own words. I think you can learn a lot from this book no matter what political party you support. As someone who was never really that interested in history this book made history come alive for me. I also liked that Eleanor Roosevelt had a deep personal interest in the welfare of others.

~The Rebecca Review
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on January 25, 2013
I was very interested to learn more about the woman - Eleanor Roosevelt. Unfortunately, she was a woman who really didn't think she was all that special. So when she wrote this book, it was less about who she was and more about the people she knew and loved. She also uses up a lot of text space listing names of people who are not really noteworthy. So much so that it quickly sounds like name dropping. I still want to read a book about Eleanor, but I will search for one that is a biography, hopefully written by someone who actually knew her. Not an entirely bad book, just not what I am looking for.
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on February 15, 2015
Loved this book for bringing back memories of life when I was a child, but even more for the honesty with which Eleanor wrote about her unhappy childhood and insecurities as a new bride. Her observations about the communist nations in the 1950's have stood the test of time. An amazing lady.
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on February 9, 2014
I love Eleanor Roosevelt, and I love this book. It is readable, it's historical, and she has wonderful wisdom to share. My copy is all underlined and dog-eared...Wonderful details about her childhood, growing up years, meeting FDR, being his wife, some of the pain of that. She has wonderful wisdom. Read her often and life will be better. Listen to her words, her philosophy and her view of life. Even the Preface is good. Lots of great photos. Writes into her old age. I have the Paperback and I put it in my Kindle so she can go everywhere with me. Wonderful, wonderful book! Great and wonderful woman! If you want another good book about Eleanor, read "Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way". by Robin Gerber. That is very well done.
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on May 6, 2015
I've always admired Eleanor Roosevelt and after finishing this book, I think I idolize her. Her legacy with the United Nations and her tireless work for human rights and dignity are as strong as her husband's legacy with the New Deal. She decried America's apathy toward democracy and worried that if we didn't foster and cultivate it, we couldn't protect it either. What a great president she would have made. She was committed to her role as public servant and worried that democracy had been overtaken in the 1960 election when the candidate was selected by the Convention and not the constituents, saying "yet boss rule can exist only where there is widespread indifference....and having committed to the machine, the delegate can only carry out instructions. He remains deaf to the voice of his constituents." She also decried political conventions because a party with "noise, bands and balloons, to the accompaniment of the manufactured and synthetic excitement of parades, is to strip one of the most important features of our system of its dignity and meaning." I highlighted heavily and could go on, but I won't.

Her active role within the United Nations gave her a global perspective on politics and peoples worldwide and she wrote a daily newspaper column on these topics, beginning in 1935 until the early 1960s. Though she wrote her autobiography 50 years ago, her words are as timely today as they were then. This should be required reading for all Americans who need to turn off "reality TV" and live in the real world.
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