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Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny Paperback – April 2, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 710 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 2, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316292613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316292610
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Freidel portrays FDR as a decisive visionary who rescued the nation's economy and defended democracy on a worldwide basis, disputing opponents who perceive him as shallow, incompetent and dictatorial. "This is as fine a one-volume biography of the 32nd president as we are likely to get," said PW. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

One volume has been too small a vessel for most FDR biographers. Five multivolume projects are on the shelves, while only three recent works of significance measure Roosevelt's entire life in a single book. The latest is Freidel's, whose Franklin D. Roosevelt (1952-73), even in four volumes, doesn't go past 1933. The graceful narrative of that magnum opus is absent in the author's new work, which is not so much a true biography as a distillation of the mass of Roosevelt scholarship. Freidel's new life concentrates on Roosevelt's presidency, with public events the consistent focus, and the private man left mainly alone. What results is the most authoritative of the one-volume works; but Nathan Miller's FDR ( LJ 1/1/83) will often be the best choice for nonacademic readers, and Ted Morgan's FDR ( LJ 11/1/85) is also available. For all college and many public libraries.
- Robert F. Nardini, N. Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is the standard reference biography of Franklin Roosevelt by probably the best historian of Roosevelt.
Todd Carlsen
I don't really mind that the author has a pro-Roosevelt bias, but he breezes over the highlights of Roosevelt's life without giving out any juicy details.
Robert S. Costic
In case you've noticed, I use the word "history" to describe this book because, while this is a great history, it is not a very good biography.
C.P.M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rheumor on May 23, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This one volume biography of FDR is probably the best distillate possible, though the task is daunting and the result is less than perfect. At times, the book 'drags' a bit, particularly through the 30s. Explanations of New Deal politics perhaps don't lend themselves to the kind of exciting story-telling that wartime meetings at places such as Tehran and Yalta do. In fact, I sometimes felt the book lapsed into an economics textbook, but it is still mostly quite readable. Freidel does not editorialize much about his subject and so (fortunately) one is left to draw one's own conclusions about FDR.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on March 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've revisited this book, which I read years ago, with hopes of including it in my set of recent reviews of books about the Depression of the 1930s. I hear so much ill-informed chatter from self-defined conservatives about the New Deal that I feel an urge to provide the reading material to deepen their understanding. This book, however, although it is the standard biography of FDR in many college classes, offers very little insight into the New Deal years, spending most of its energy on the later wartime FDR. It is unquestionably a book of muted adulation, almost a hagiography, and Roosevelt detractors will find it shallow and irritating at best. Myself a Roosevelt respecter but not partisan, I find it shallow, also, and particularly where it matters most. Freidel describes the politics of FDR's "court packing" failure without analyzing what was really at stake and to what degree FDR's threats forced the American judiciary to reformulate much of the law of labor relations to suit a mixed liberal democracy (liberal in the classic economic sense).
It's not only quixotic but also destructive to swelter in anarcho-capitalist or libertarian myths about FDR and the New Deal. Critics of Roosevelt are advised at least to know their man.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was quite interesting, involving Roosevelts entire life, including every little nugget of his political life. If you are moderatly interested in FDR, read this book, but be warned, if you are just a casual reader, it may be best not to get a book that is so detailed. I certainly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to any political science student, or a person studying history. FDR was an interesting man, and it was a joy to read about this brilliant president.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R.J. Corby on November 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Frank Freidel has written a pretty good book about one of our most complex and admired presidents, but it certainly is not exhaustive. Freidel goes a good job explaining the who, what, where and when, but leaves out the all-important "why" in many of FDR's decisions. I would have loved to read more of FDR's thought processes and what went into his various decisions, especially at the all-important "Big 3" meetings at Tehran and Yalta. For instance, in David McCullough's Pulitzer-Prize winning tome, "Truman," we get plenty of meat on Truman's thoughts during the Potsdam conference - words from his diaries, notes to subordinates, etc. McCullough gives readers dozens and dozens of pages on Truman's analysis and thought processes during the critical conference. In contrast, readers really don't get terrific, exhaustive details in Freidel's book, and it's a letdown. These details separate a good presidential biography from a great one.

However, this is not a horrible book by any stretch. The author offers readers plenty about the 1932 election, FDR's disastrous decision to pack the Supreme Court, his thoughts and actions following Pearl Harbor, FDR's wartime strategy on the home front, his four presidential elections and even his death on April 12, 1945. Freidel covers the milestones of FDR's presidency well, but the devil is in the details. While I have not yet read Conrad Black's mammoth 1,200-page bio on FDR, one would hope it goes deeper than Freidel's 600-page tome. This book is recommended as a starter, or as part of a series of books to understand and study FDR.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William Steck on July 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Obviously, a life like Roosevelt's is hard to condense into just one book due to the breadth of its importance and his impact on U.S. history. FDR's complex personality makes it even more difficult. Frank Freidel does a pretty good job of it in "A rendezvous with Destiny." The book starts with a brief look at FDR's early life, and ends with his death just after Yalta. The bulk of the book covers his political years.

I really liked Freidel's account of FDR trying to manipulate gold prices. You really get a good behind the scenes look of FDR trying to implement his programs in the early 1930's. You will discover that FDR was fairly quick to catch on to the danger that Hitler presented to the free world. Amazingly, you will discover how the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor was either partially brought about, or brought about more quickly by a clerical error while FDR was on one of his many vacations.

I really enjoyed this book. Even if you are a well seasoned student of history, you will find a lot of little known facts, mostly behind the scenes details, in this fine work by Freidel. A great place to start your study of FDR's amazing life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Frank Freidel of Harvard is the greatest historian of Franklin Roosevelt. Freidel spent years researching Roosevelt. He documented more interviews of people in Roosevelt's life than any other historian. His contribution to the historiography of Franklin Roosevelt is unsurpassed.

Freidel originally wrote an outstanding four-volume biography of Franklin Roosevelt that meticulously detailed FDR's life from childhood, through his ordeal with polio, to the early years of FDR's presidency. Read that well-written biography if you want a deep understanding of the man and his times. Freidel never finished that multi-volume biography of Roosevelt into the war years; it was suppose to be six volumes.

Instead, Freidel wrote this excellent one-volume Roosevelt biography called Rendezvous with Destiny, which condenses Freidel's lifelong research into one volume. The coverage of FDR's early years and Eleanor Roosevelt's story are especially excellent. This is the standard reference biography of Franklin Roosevelt by probably the best historian of Roosevelt.

This biography starts with a superb background into Roosevelt's early life in upper class New York. His personal life was fascinating. FDR was born secure and confident. His mother was assertive and doted on her only child. Franklin attended Groton and Harvard. He loved to sail and greatly admired his cousin Theodore Roosevelt.
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