Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
No Ordinary Time is a wonderfully well written biography which tells the story of "Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt -- The Home Front in World War II." Doris Kearns Goodwin has made a number of choices to tell her biographical story with deceptive simplicity. I personally don't think the book quite manages to completely encompass "The Home Front in World War II" along the way, and I probably didn't want it to; instead it tells the story of the war through the Roosevelts' fascinating circle of White House "family" members, with broader historical themes touching on that story. The personal story works. I've never read quite this sort of parallel biography before. In a lot of ways the relationship between FDR and his astonishingly complex, compassionate wife makes a perfect lens through which to view the times. Goodwin has plenty of chances to let Eleanor's various interests touch on different aspects of American life; hardly anything escapes the first lady's list of interests and causes, so there's no strain to include anything, that's for sure. I sometimes found myself, though, wishing the emphasis was more squarely on biography proper. Four or five times in reading the book, I became momentarily bogged down in passages involving, say, big picture statistics, and wanted to concentrate on the motives and feelings of Eleanor and Franklin again. In particular, Eleanor's various interests often serve to introduce some new social issue, and I wanted to really understand *her* appreciation of things rather than reading a set of statistics she wouldn't have had access to anyway. Honestly, though, No Ordinary Time breathes life into these people. You come away from the book understanding that they could be huge, monumental figures and yet be complex and flawed and very human at the same time. There's no taking away from the heart of the book. It's told well, and it makes a wonderful, rich, rewarding read.
Was this review helpful to you?
This is one of the finest books I have ever read about America's involvement in World War II. Not only has Goodwin thoroughly researched her subject, but she knows how to tell it in an easily readable, "can't put it down" manner. Writing an informative, wonderfully illustrative book about the home front during mankind's biggest, deadliest war is a feat, but making readers feel as if they are actually living and experiencing that time is another accomplishment altogether. Goodwin does this in a book that will be read hundreds of years from now. Anyone who wishes to get the feel for what it was like during this tumultuous time should buy this book, read it, and then read it again. Many people of FDR's inner circle are profiled and narrated, including Lucy Mercer, the woman FDR fell in love with and nearly divorced Eleanor over; Missy LeHand, FDR's personal assistant whom many referred to as his "real" wife; as well as Ikes, Morgenthau, Stimson and most importantly, Harry Hopkins. Goodwin also debunks some myths about the FDR presidency, both good and bad. Some World War II "Did You Know" tidbits covered: 1. Nearly 105,000 refugees from Nazism reached the U.S., more than any other country. Palestine was second with 55,000. No one disputes that the number should have been much, much higher, but today's attitudes would lead people to believe that we turned everyone away. Footnote - during FDR's presidency, only 3 percent of the population was Jewish - but 15 percent of his appointments were Jewish. Our greatest wartime president was no Anti-Semite. 2. The journey of the St. Louis. The author gives adequate attention to one of the great tragedies of the war, and an enormous stain on FDR's legacy. 3.Read more ›
Of the making of books on Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt there is not end. By any standard they remain two of the most remarkable people to have inhabited the White House, he as one of greatest presidents ever and she as without any serious competition the greatest first lady. Together, they forged a partnership without parallel in the nation's history.
In a sense, the book is deceptively delimited. Goodwin ostensibly deals with the Roosevelts and the Home Front during WW II, but in fact this is more like a joint biography of the two. She freely shifts the narrative from the years of 1939-45 to any point in the lives of the two, whether to dwell on their first meeting, to the time in which Franklin was afflicted with polio and his attempted recovery, to Eleanor's upbringing and the sufferings she experienced with alcoholics, to Franklin's adulterous affair that effectively ended his and Eleanor's marriage if not their partnership. So the book ends up as a wide-ranging exploration of the lives of the two main characters, as well the major figures in their lives, whether in the war years or not.
Franklin emerges in the book as what he certainly was: one of the truly great presidents in American history (even his detractors need recall that Ronald Reagan called him the greatest president). Virtually every poll of scholars since his lifetime has placed him among our three greatest presidents, but even that can overlook the fact that no president in our history faced more challenges than did Roosevelt, and few dealt with them so successfully. Goodwin is brilliant at showing both Franklin's great strengths as both president and a human being, as well as his weaknesses.Read more ›
Doris Kearns Goodwin won the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time, which was a bestseller in hardcover and trade paper. She is also the author of Wait Till Next Year, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, Richard Goodwin.