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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II Hardcover – September 1, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 900 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A compelling chronicle of a nation and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. With an uncanny feel for detail and a novelist's grasp of drama and depth, Doris Kearns Goodwin brilliantly narrates the interrelationship between the inner workings of the Roosevelt White House and the destiny of the United States. Goodwin paints a comprehensive, intimate portrait that fills in a historical gap in the story of our nation under the Roosevelts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

No previous biography of a president has given so complete a picture of how private lives and political questions intersect uniquely for the residents of the White House. Nor has any history of WWII so fully documented the domestic life of the nation during the international crisis. Narrating the events of the war from the vantage point of the White House, Goodwin (Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream) reveals a political drama fought in Congress, within the cabinet, in the press and in the living quarters of the executive mansion. As Goodwin makes richly evident, Eleanor was a homefront counterpart to Winston Churchill, a partner and provocateur whose relationship with FDR was rarely smooth and often frankly confrontational. Previous works on the Roosevelts have suggested that, as an adviser, Eleanor was her husband's political and social conscience; Goodwin shows in stunning detail that even more, she was his astute political partner, lobbyist and goad. The author's portrait offers a fresh perspective on WWII and, more than coincidentally during the debate over the proper role of Hillary Rodham Clinton, depicts how a savvy, relentlessly involved First Lady incalculably enriched and shaped the political and social agendas of the nation. Photos. History Book Club split main selection; BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 759 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671642405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671642402
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (900 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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