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FDR's Splendid Deception: The Moving Story of Roosevelt's Massive Disability-And the Intense Efforts to Conceal It from the Public Hardcover – March 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0918339508 ISBN-10: 0918339502 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Vandamere Pr; 3 edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0918339502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0918339508
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The author is a writer and scholar on the Washington scene. He served in the Johnson White House and as a Senate staffer. His previous books include: Black Bird Fly Away: Disabled in an Able-bodied World (Vandamere Press, 1998); By Trust Betrayed: Patients, Physicians, and the License to Kill in the Third Reich, 2nd Edition (Vandamere Press, 1995); Etok: A Story of Eskimo Power, (G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1975); and Advise and Obstruct: The Role of the United States Senate in Foreign Policy Decisions ( Delacorte, 1969), a Pulitzer Prize Nominee. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, People, Mainstream, and many other publications. He is a highly regarded and popular speaker nationwide on both disability and presidential history. He is the father of the Architectural Barriers Act, and considered to be the grandfather of the Disability Rights Act. Gallagher contracted paralytic polio in 1952. He was rehabilitated at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. He is paraplegic, uses a wheelchair, and lives in Cabin John, Maryland. In 1995 he was awarded the prestigious Henry B. Betts award in recognition of his lifelong contributions to disability thought.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the value of this book; I highly recommend it.
Brett Leggett
Contains great insight about how FDR's battle against polio shaped his character, transforming his from an aloof aristocrat to a compassionate man of the people.
Dr. David R. Reagan
Mr. Gallagher's book is a rare and important one in illustrating what his day-to-day struggle was like.
Brett Leggett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brett Leggett on May 6, 2000
Countless biographies have been written about the nation's 32nd President, but few devote more than a chapter or passing reference to FDR's battle with Polio. Mr. Gallagher's book is a rare and important one in illustrating what his day-to-day struggle was like. He details FDR's carefully-orchestrated public appearances which, for the country, maintained the illusion that their President could actually walk.
While I found the book to be inspirational, perhaps the most fascinating realization was the respect of the media in maintaining this illusion. For instance, we learn that of the thousands of photos taken of Roosevelt, only a couple exist that show him in his wheelchair. In an age where every aspect of a President's health and private life are scrutinized, this book allows us to ask the uneasy question of whether one of our greatest Presidents could ever have been elected today. You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the value of this book; I highly recommend it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 1999
I am pleased to see this book back in print. Mr. Gallagher's book is excellent, and a great read for history buffs and those who lived through the Polio epidemics, or want to see what it was like. I had Polio in 1953, and didn't realize FDR had Polio until much later. I never knew until I read this book that FDR wore braces on both legs (my brace was right leg only), and that FDR never walked unassisted (as I was able to do). We both had great upper arm strength, better for a guy than a girl! FDR deceived not only me, but everyone. And, it is good to know the whole story as presented by Mr. Gallagher in his great book. I am pleased to add it to my library.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By JOHN GODFREY on February 7, 2003
but this book is the best of a small but special niche. Hugh Gallagher did a fine job & it is obvious from this book & television interviews he has given, that this is a subject he cares deeply about.
There was a conspiracy of silence among reporters & those close to FDR not to acknowledge his paralysis. This silence extended beyond his life to many books & even for a while, the memorial to him. He referred to his affliction maybe once in public late in his life.
The time he spent before & during his presidency rehabing in Warm Springs impacted on him in important ways. A strong bond developed between him, the people of Warm Springs & his fellow patients. That perhaps is the silver lining to his polio: the contact he had with ordinary folks he would never have meet, never would have had anything in common with except his disease.
I think Mr. Gallagher might agree that being stricken with polio was the defining event of FDR's life. Before he was a political lightweight. He was a handsome, charming politician who thought he might like to be president someday. After, he became wiser, more sober yet still charming, less arrogant, more compassionate & a traitor to his upper class breeding. He became stronger, much stronger as a man. The strength he gained from this ordeal contributed greatly to his becoming president & eventually leader of the free world. An important work to read to get the whole Roosevelt.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chimonsho on February 6, 2005
This unique book is essential for all FDR collections. Gallagher spent decades researching a subject central to Franklin Roosevelt's career and personal life, and as a fellow "polio," Warm Springs client and wheelchair user, his insider's view permits unmatched insights. Gallagher supports most scholars who see FDR's struggle with disability as the key to his character and political ascent, but he pushes his inquiries further than others, shedding new light on FDR and those close to him. The photos are truly startling in what they reveal about FDR's health, and the author excels at analyzing the careful poses which helped hide the disability. Both press and public aided their own self-deception in ways that are now unthinkable; any and all aspects of public lives are fair game these days. Gallagher is both straightforward and sensitive on such matters as FDR's sex life and the challenges of physical mobility. Some flaws exist: his treatment of psychological and health factors is superb, but he's less careful about better-known parts of FDR's story, and minor factual errors creep in. Also, much remains unknown about such a private public figure, so even the most acute conclusions are often guesswork. Still, this concise work is a riveting look at "a great American, a disabled American." While it mentions politics only incidentally, it is highly suggestive about vital matters such as the infirmity of leaders and the electorate's right to know.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brett Leggett on June 14, 2006
(originally posted May 6, 2000)

Countless biographies have been written about the nation's 32nd President, but few devote more than a chapter or passing reference to FDR's battle with Polio. Mr. Gallagher's book is a rare and important one in illustrating what his day-to-day struggle was like. He details FDR's carefully-orchestrated public appearances which, for the country, maintained the illusion that their President could actually walk.

While I found the book to be inspirational, perhaps the most fascinating realization was the respect of the media in maintaining this illusion. For instance, we learn that of the thousands of photos taken of Roosevelt, only a couple exist that show him in his wheelchair. In an age where every aspect of a President's health and private life are scrutinized, this book allows us to ask the uneasy question of whether one of our greatest Presidents could ever have been elected today. You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate the value of this book; I highly recommend it.
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