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Kindred Souls: The Friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and David Gurewitsch Hardcover – January 24, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"You know without my telling you that I love you as I love and have never loved anyone else," wrote Eleanor Roosevelt to her doctor, David Gurewitsch, in 1955. It was an extraordinary declaration by the world's most famous woman, one that has intrigued historians and biographers for decades. Now the full story behind this relationship is revealed by an unlikely source David's wife. Gurewitsch writes that her husband and Mrs. Roosevelt first met in 1944. Shortly thereafter, David became her personal physician, and a friendship blossomed that endured until Mrs. Roosevelt's death in 1962. It was, Gurewitsch admits, a curious friendship. David was 18 years younger and "uncommonly handsome" facts that made some Roosevelt family members "uneasy" about the relationship. But Gurewitsch dispels any questions about an intimate affair. Mrs. Roosevelt did possess "romantic feelings" toward David, she writes, but these were controlled by the pair "maturely and honorably." David frequently traveled with Mrs. Roosevelt; and after her marriage to David, the author was a constant companion as well. The trio even lived together in a house on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Thus, Gurewitsch literally had a living room seat from which to observe Mrs. Roosevelt's uniquely diverse life: mother, party hostess, social activist, Democratic spokesperson, world diplomat. It is chiefly for these observations, coupled with excerpts from the Gurewitsch-Roosevelt letters, that this book is valuable. With admiration for her subject, Gurewitsch has significantly expanded our understanding of the last years of the 20th century's great American woman. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

During the final 15 years of Eleanor Roosevelt's celebrated life, she nurtured an intense personal relationship with A. David Gurewitsch, a man 20 years her junior who was first her physician and later became her surrogate son. This intimate and poignant story of two psychological outsiders validating each other's needs is recounted by Gurewitsch's widow, who herself became Eleanor Roosevelt's close friend during the last four years of ER's life. Gurewitsch, born in Russia of Jewish parents, was reared in Germany. In addition to bouts of statelessness and tuberculosis in the 1930s and 1940s, he grew up fatherless like ER. Moreover, just as Eleanor was ostracized emotionally as "granny" by her beautiful socialite mother before her early death, David Gurewitsch's demanding mother abandoned him early while she pursued her medical degree abroad. Eleanor served as his "adopted" mother, and David served as her ideal son and friend. A dozen years into this special relationship, the author and David were wed in ER's living room. A New York art dealer, the young bride was thrust into the public whirlwind Eleanor generated. Her memoir offers numerous personal insights into the public institution of ER. In many ways, the second half of the memoir becomes a story of adult love and friendship among three mature characters. Highly recommended. William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (January 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312286988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312286989
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,207,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1945, David Gurewitsch became Eleanor Roosevelt's personal physician. Within two years, they became close friends, traveling companions and confidants. Edna Gurewitsch chronicles the relationship between her husband and Mrs. Roosevelt in Kindred Souls: The Devoted Friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. David Gurewitsch.

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most intelligent, gifted, powerful, energetic yet humble women of the 20th Century. But despite all these attributes, she suffered from a definite lack of confidence in her abilities. This lack of self-esteem had several roots including her miserable childhood, her insensitive husband, her domineering mother-in-law and the shabby treatment she suffered by her five self-centered, spoiled and undisciplined children. To compensate for this serious lacking, Mrs. Roosevelt surrounded herself with an orbit of friends who served as her surrogate family. Mrs. Roosevelt demanded much from her friends, but rewarded them with love, loyalty, devotion and generosity. Her list included Esther Lape, Marion Dickerman, Nancy Cook, Lorena Hickock, Joe Lash, and others. Dr. Gurewitsch was her closest friend for the last 15 years of her life. Right before her death, she wrote to him "above all others, you are the one to whom my heart is tied." Once David married the author, they became a threesome. They even shared a house together until Mrs. Roosevelt's death in 1962.

Edna Gurewitsch's book can best be described as a lovefest. Her fawning descriptions of her "perfect" husband become very nauseating very quickly. If there are any warts exposed in Kindred Souls, they belong to Mrs. Roosevelt. She could be demanding and emotionally needy at times, and often revealed a jealousy toward those she felt were usurping her attention.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Ellen Connally on July 24, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I certainly do not claim to be an expert on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. However, I have read my fair share of books on her life and that of FDR. As a result, I thought I was aware of ER's circle of friends and the people who shared a close relationship with her. When I discovered KINDRED SOULDS - THE FRIENDSHIP OF ELEANOR ROOSEVELT AND DAVID GUREWITSCH on audiocassete at my local library it came as a welcome surprise. David Gurewitsch was a name that was new to me.

Edna P. Gurewitsch's 2002 book is a memorable history of the relationship between the author's husband, Dr. David Gurewitsch and ER. Based mainly on letters between ER and Dr. Gurewitsch and journals along with Edna's memories, the book presents a charming portrait of Mrs. Roosevelt as a pragmatic, driven, thoughtful, quirky, emotional and sometimes difficult friend. The relationship that developed first beween ER and David, who was ER's physician, and later with the addition of Edna when they married, makes for an interesting insight into the dynamics of this unique set of human relationship. Did ER really love David, a man many years her junior, and resent the intrusion of Edna? Did she finally come to accept this "other woman" in a strange threesome in order to maintain her relationship with David? These are questions that no one can answer and one that the prospective reader can ponder for themselves.

The Roosevelt children do not fair wll throughout the book, which covers the last years of Mrs. Roosevelt's life. They come across as seemingly lacking concern for their mother, going to her when they were in financial straights, especially Elliot and living lives where they believed that the society owes them a great deal because of their place in history as Roosevelts.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a book about the friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr David Gurewitsch, her personal physician and friend, during the last fifteen years of Mrs Roosevelt’s life. This account is written by David’s wife Edna and draws on both the diaries David kept and the hundreds of letters that he and Mrs Roosevelt exchanged over the years of their friendship. In 1962, in one of her letters to Dr Gurewitsch, Mrs Roosevelt had written: ‘Above all others you are the one to whom my heart is tied.’ Theirs was an intense relationship: they often travelled and entertained together and, after his marriage to Edna in February 1958, the three of them bought and lived in a town house in Manhattan which they divided into two separate apartments.

Mrs Gurewitch provides a unique perspective on their private friendship: she has her own memories of each of them as well as their voluminous correspondence and Dr Gurewitsch’s diaries. She writes that:

‘As a physician, David had private recognition, but he craved public approval. Mrs Roosevelt had public recognition, but she craved intimacy. Each satisfied the other’s hunger for acceptance. It was a fair exchange.’

She writes as well that:

‘Despite the closeness of their bond, evidenced in her extremely caring letters to him, David and Mrs Roosevelt were never lovers. Indeed, the tragedy of this superior woman was that she never had the absolute, intimate love of a man.’

The Eleanor Roosevelt who appears through the pages of this book is a kind and generous woman, interested in others, but also lonely and vulnerable, sometimes jealous and sometimes apparently overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy.
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