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Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 31, 2015
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"[R]ipping but poignant... [T]his voume reminds us just how punishing life in a presidential family can be." —TIME
"With aplomb, stylish prose and smart analysis, [Peyser and Dwyer] synthesize their sources smoothly into an entertaining and educational book. And by vividly blending the personal and the political, Peyser and Dwyer tell the cousins’ story with insight, humor, empathy and wisdom. In so doing, they call on the best qualities of their subjects to produce a welcome and absorbing addition to the ever-growing canon of Rooseveltiana." —Richmond Times-Dispatch
"[C]lever, absorbing ... Peyser and Dwyer wisely avoid paying too much attention to the old theory that Alice was jealous of Eleanor for capturing Franklin, whom she wanted for herself. What Alice mostly felt was wild exasperation over the way political fate and circumstance set Franklin up as her father’s wrongful heir ... [E]ntertaining and often shrewd." —The Washington Post
"[T]his new book focuses on a relationship that changed radically as these two women, both born in 1884, grew up and assumed their roles as leading figures in their respective political parties ... Both grab our sympathy as young women ... but in adulthood their differences couldn’t be starker." —The Boston Globe
"[A] masterful chronicle of their lives and times." —The Washington Times
"Hissing Cousins unravels the Machiavellian question that would haunt both women in their path to power: is it better to be clever, or is it better to be good? ... [T]he one thing Alice and Eleanor certainly got out of their enmity was an unwavering belief in their own selves ... It turns out that even among women, a little healthy competition is a good thing." —The Guardian
"This is a brilliant idea for a book, brilliantly executed. With verve and insight, Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer have written a powerful and entertaining portrait of an important and overlooked American relationship. By charting the turbulent connection between Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Peyser and Dwyer take us inside a momentous family during momentous hours. A terrific read!" —Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
"Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer have hit upon a most ingenious angle on the endlessly revelatory Roosevelt family, yielding a vivid, occasionally mind-boggling view of the conflicting impulses in our national character. Their portrait of these first cousins at odds is one of the most entertaining accounts of serious history I’ve read, eliciting laughter, groans and ultimately a certain panoramic comprehension." —Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
"Hissing Cousins is just delicious—sharp, touching, funny, and wise. Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer have brought to life a pair of the great women of the twentieth century, in all their human flaws and glory." —Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World
"This is the beautifully-rendered and absorbing story of the seventy-year family rivalry between two of the most compelling women of the twentieth century—one Democrat, one Republican, both fascinating." —Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
"For much of the twentieth century Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Longworth defined what it meant to be an influential woman in politics, although their personalities and styles could not have been more different. This part of the grand Roosevelt family saga has rarely been told, and never better." —H. W. Brands, author of Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"A charming account of the fascinating relationship between two indomitable women of the 20th Century: Mrs, Democrat and Mrs. Republican." —Joyce Appleby, Professor Emerita, UCLA
"Peyser and Dwyer's detailed and witty double biography is hard to put down, a fascinating look at an era and two exceptionally strong, intelligent women." —Booklist, starred
"[A] compelling drama dimmed by the fog of time. The research is thorough and the prose is stylishly authoritative." —The Christian Science Monitor
"[M]anages to encapsulate the sweeping saga of the Roosevelt family within its covers in a clear and readable fashion." —Chicago Tribune
"[D]elightfully juicy ... The cousins’ rivalry was well known in its day ... but this is the first account that gets into the nasty details. It’s an enormously entertaining portrait, particularly of the acid-tongued Alice, who finally — in this book — manages to steal back the show." —Columbia Magazine
"Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer have a can’t-miss subject on their hands, and they bring the reader along for an exhilarating ride." —BookPage
"An entertaining retelling of a forgotten story, written for political junkies who enjoy the naughty and the nice." —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Timothy Dwyer was raised on Long Island's Eaton's Neck, swimming distance from Theodore Roosevelt's homestead at Sagamore Hill. He studied history and politics at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. His work has appeared in Time, Washingtonian, and TheAtlantic.com. He is the chief executive officer of The School Choice Group, an education advisory company.
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Top Customer Reviews
Thankfully there is a family tree in the beginning to help sort out the numerous members of these relatives. The family tree is complicated and at times during reading it is hard to distinguish who is who because of the tendency of many of them having the same name. The insertion of nicknames for various members is not always made clear and can lead to some confusion and the need to turn back to discern which family member is the subject.
Footnotes are an added bonus that explain political, world or familial background. When money is mentioned, it is translated into 2015 dollar worth, which also adds to an understanding.
The commentaries between Alice and Eleanor are good. We read excerpts from diaries, letters, public statements and private conversations. Their fluctuating moods and relationships with each other, members of the family and friends are well explained and detailed.
This is not a history of world events. Little is mentioned of even WWII. Instead the focus is on the two women themselves and how they dealt with their lives and those around them. What happens in the wider spectrum of world events is secondary.
This is a good book for those who wish to learn more about a family surrounded by politics, society, life in Washington and of course what Eleanor and Alice were really like as individuals.
These women truly were quite opposites in many ways, yet sharing many things as well. Alice became a staunch Republican; Eleanor remained a fierce Democrat. Both seemed to have had romantic interests in Franklin D, which of course Eleanor had won. Both ended up as political wives early in their marriages, but Alice was more about fame and fortune while Eleanor always had a concern for the poorer people in society. It's easy to take sides with Eleanor, because Alice's big fame was being the attractive daughter of a popular president. Both broke taboos in their own right; one politically and the other socially.
This is not a book about the presidents Teddy and Franklin D Roosevelt, and the authors did a great job leaving the political history of the world wars out of this. The one big mention is the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s, in which Archie Roosevelt was involved. Anything that involved a Roosevelt from Alice's side brought out the warrior in her.
So when did the cousins start hissing? It seems to have started in the 1920s, with Teddy now dead and Franklin D vying for New York State governor and later presidency. Once FDR was stricken with polio, the feud began in earnest. Alice is not portrayed here very well, she being a vindictive, jealous woman with anger while Eleanor became more assertive and independent at the same time.Read more ›
In 1884, the year Alice and Eleanor Roosevelt were born, their family already ranked among the grandest of American bloodlines. Although they were wealthy and well connected their lives were tinged with sorrow: Alice's mother died shortly after her birth, while Eleanor's father's emotional problems and addictions led to the failure of his marriage and his early death. Our mental images of the two cousins in their childhood and teenage years depict Alice as the beautiful and self-confident Presidential daughter and Eleanor as a rather mousy do-gooder. The real story is more complex: Alice desperately needed her father's approval and resented Eleanor, who sometimes seemed to be closer to Theodore Roosevelt's idea of the perfect daughter. Both married men who seemed set for brilliant political futures and both were disappointed when their husbands proved unfaithful. Eventually both suffered setbacks: Alice's husband losing political power and Eleanor's losing his physical health. Eleanor, of course, helped revive her husband's career and saw him elected President four times, allowing her to make the position of First Lady more powerful than ever before.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Lots of historical facts that I would not have known about.Published 26 days ago by Sandra J. Swanson
It was a bit slow..There seemed to be a lot of repetition in the book. Learned a lot about Eleanor however.Published 3 months ago by Vicky Taylor
This was more about the politics of the time & Teddy Roosevelt than about the cousins. I would have liked to learn more about Eleanor. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Paula
This book is well written and well researched. I believe it gave a balanced view of both Alice and Eleanor while explaining both ladies interesting behaviors. Entertaining!!!Published 3 months ago by mountainreader
I really enjoyed reading this book. I'd though I knew a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt, but learned much, much more. Read morePublished 4 months ago by espeefan
Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt were first cousins on their dad's side. I have read many biographies about the different members of the Roosevelt family, including but not limited too... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Zeta Books
Really good way to become immersed into the inside drama of history. Very easy to read / adds wonderful human qualities to remarkable people who helped shape our world. Read morePublished 4 months ago by slewboy