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Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker Hardcover – October 18, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The fiercely intelligent eldest daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt (1884–1981) was rebellious and outspoken partly as the result of her desperation to gain the attention of an emotionally distant father, according to historian Cordery. Utilizing Alice's personal papers, Cordery describes how she was more devastated by the political infidelity of her husband, House speaker Nicholas Longworth, during the 1912 presidential election (he sided with Taft over TR) than by his sexual dalliances. Her own affair with powerful Idaho Sen. William Borah resulted in the birth of her only child, Paulina. When her beloved father died in 1919, the stoic Alice simply omitted it completely from her autobiography, and she was a poor mother to Paulina, who died in 1957, at 32, from an overdose of prescription medicines mixed with alcohol. Alice's independence of mind often led her against the grain: she worked to defeat Wilson's League of Nations and was a WWII isolationist and America First activist. Her witty syndicated newspaper columns criticized FDR and the New Deal, and she betrayed her cousin Eleanor by encouraging FDR's liaison with Lucy Mercer Rutherford. Cordery (Theodore Roosevelt: In the Vanguard of the Modern) pens an authoritative, intriguing portrait of a first daughter who broke the mold. Photos. (Oct. 22)
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*Starred Review* Our royalty is our presidential families, and the eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt was even referred to in the press of the time as Princess Alice. "Larger than life" is a clichéd description, but Alice Roosevelt Longworth was qualified to wear it. This absorbing, magnificently complete biography, the first to be based on Alice's own papers, presents her as the first female celebrity of the twentieth century. What that meant in terms of how she viewed herself and how she was viewed by her famous father and an adoring public is explored in Cordery's impressively astute psychological understanding of this quite complex personality. Alice's mother died giving birth to her, her father was famously distant, and her stepmother, First Lady Edith, hadn't a clue about how to handle an intelligent, willfuland world-famousstepdaughter who seemed bent on acting in the most dramatic fashion. Alice's tumultuous marriage to Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth is sensitively appraised, and the true father of Alice's one child is identified. Always the political animal, Alice remained a force in Washington, D.C., politics as well as society throughout her long life, a life she plotted for herself unbound by tradition. Hooper, Brad"
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To the editors - I wish you would mention Eleanor and FDR "little trick" during an election campaign, when Eleanor was following her cousin, Theodore Roosevelt Jr with a huge teapot on the roof of her car to discredit him (a reminder of a scandal in the office, he wasn't involved in it personally). It worked marvels and Roosevelt Jr had lost his race for the governor position. As a result, he was not consider for presidential elections and could not race against FDR. After that, who could have blamed Alice for not being fond of her cousin Eleanor? As for her "encouraging" an affair of FDR with Lucy Mercer ("betrayal" of her cousin Eleanor), an affair was already in a full bloom before Alice started to invite them for dinner.
It's probably an impossible task to succeed in covering in one book, a life that spanned so many years and so many events. The author certainly made a valiant attempt.
What is perhaps most fascinating about this well-told tale is the undying animosity [jealousy?] between the two great Roosevelt houses--hers, the Republican Oyster Bay R's [her father Teddy's side of the family] and theirs, the Democratic Hyde Park R's (FDR's branch.] Franklin, whom she had dismissed early on as a light-weight charmer, hitched his wagon to the minority party and, to Alice's ceaseless displeasure, watched him and it become the majority during the Depression. For that, she never forgave the man she once labeled "the feather duster." As she had once opposed another Democrat, Wilson, and his plans for the League of Nation, so, too, did she object to almost everything Franklin and his wife did in his four terms. A non-interventionist if not a genuine isolationist before the Second World War, Alice resisted American's involvement with England. After the war, she opposed the United Nations, and countless social programs whose time had come. For a woman famous for her intelligence and her ability to size up people, a very grande dame if ever there was one, it seems odd indeed that in so a long life she was blind about so many people and things-- in the end, none so glaring as her affection for Richard Nixon.