Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
FDR Paperback – May 13, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Books with Buzz
"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Independent biographer Smith (1996's John Marshall: Definer of a Nation and 2001's Grant) crafts a magisterial biography of our most important modern president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Scores of books have been written about Roosevelt, exploring every nook and cranny of his experience, so Smith breaks no "news" and offers no previously undisclosed revelations concerning the man from Hyde Park. But the author's eloquent synthesis of FDR's complex and compelling life is remarkably executed and a joy to read. Drawing on the papers of the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library as well as Columbia University's oral history collection and other repositories, Smith minutely explores the arc of FDR's intertwined political and private lives. With regard to the political, the biographer seamlessly traces Roosevelt's evolution from gawky, aristocratic, political newcomer nibbling at the edges of the rough-and-tumble Dutchess County, N.Y., Democratic machine to the consummate though physically crippled political insider—a man without pretensions who acquired and performed the jobs of New York governor and then United States president with shrewd, and always joyous, efficiency. As is appropriate, more than half of Smith's narrative deals with FDR as president: the four terms (from 1933 until his death in 1945) during which he waged war, in turn, on the Depression and the Axis powers. As for the private Roosevelt, Smith reveals him as a devoted son; an unhappy husband who eventually settled into an uneasy peace and working partnership with his wife and cousin Eleanor; an emotionally absent father; and a man who for years devotedly loved two women other than his wife—Lucy Mercer Rutherford and Missy LeHand, the latter his secretary. This erudite but graceful volume illuminates FDR's life for scholars, history buffs and casual readers alike. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
As Franklin Roosevelt approached the stage at the 1936 Democratic Convention, the steel braces on his useless legs and the support of his sons arm allowing him, in great pain, to simulate walking, he was jostled, and he crashed to the ground, scattering the pages of his speech. "Clean me up," he said, "and keep your feet off those damned sheets." Minutes later, utterly poised, he told an audience and a nation ravaged by the Depression that they had "a rendezvous with destiny." Smith, in this remarkable, sympathetic biography, doesnt flinch at Roosevelts mistakes; the sections on the court-packing scheme and the internment of Japanese-Americans are painful to read. Smith also does a fine job with a complex marriage, avoiding the F.D.R. biographers trap of being either annoyed or enraptured by Eleanor. The Roosevelt who emerges hereneither a stranger nor a painted iconis flawed and magnificent.
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
As Smith notes in the foreword, there is a ridiculous volume of literature on FDR, his policies, his lieutenants, and his wife. Smith's gift is that he absorbs the massive amount of scholarship, does an impressive amount of primary source research - some of which even after all the preceding authors is still quite original - and then unlike most academics translates it into concepts even neophytes can understand. While shelves are filled with volumes detailing programs of the New Deal, Smith both explains the programs thoroughly and then adds on all the behind the scenes deal-making and politics, yet does so in a masterly crafted 55 pages.
This isn't to say that Smith hasn't done his homework. In some places he adds significantly to the existing literature. For instance, Roosevelt's stint as Assistant Secretary of the Navy is probably better explored than any other of his biographers. The results are interesting: FDR's Navy Secretary boss, Josephus Daniels, was not the pushover that many historians argue, FDR contributed a surprising amount to the war effort (it was FDR, not Daniels, that championed the Naval Reserve), and Smith strongly supports an argument that his administrative experience was not just a political education in learning how to deal with Congress but also provided the background to succeed as commander-in-chief during World War II. Some of this is original research, other parts are synthesizing a bunch of underutilized biographies, but in total it works nicely.
Smith is an unabashed admirer of Roosevelt - his parents' farm was electrified by the rural projects - but objectively criticizes policy and people in a distinctly non-partisan manner. Woodrow Wilson is torn to shreds as a bungling holier-than-thou racist zealot, and when FDR makes similarly bad mistakes Smith calls him to task. Smith spends a good deal of time attacking FDR's hubris in packing the Supreme Court and attempting to purge the party of conservatives. Those have been covered before by others, but he successful argues there is no little irony how the former crippled his legislative agenda and the latter, if successful, would have lead to disastrous consequences on later foreign policy votes. Other errors like the Japanese detention order and screwing up postwar Europe by largely excluding the State department from policy decisions because of a spat between him and Cordell Hull provide balance. Conspiracy theorists aren't going to like how he tramples the Pearl Harbor myths - Dean Acheson's role in scuttling FDR's final attempt towards defusing things is noteworthy - but the scholarship is there in the footnotes for those who want to look it up.
This is a biography that will likely be used as the starting point for most research on the subject matter for years to come. Smith is to be commended for showing that not all scholarly biographies have to break the back of the reader. 5 stars.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy FDR, quite the contrary. It’s just not a book you read between the covers when falling asleep at night. You need to be on your toes to keep track of who is who and of the timeline of events. I’m almost tempted to go back to the start and read it all over again, now that I’ve done all the heavy lifting.
If you want to understand how FDR came to be president, what his views were, and what made him such an effective leader, this book is for you. You’ll also get a glimpse of the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, though if you’re really interested in her, then her memoirs are probably a better start. The same goes for Winston Churchill, who by necessity gets quite a bit of coverage during the war years, and who for FDR was not only the head of an allied state but also a friend. For further reading about the relationship between the two, I recommend Meacham’s Franklin and Winston.
I’m not a historian so can’t attest whether you’ll gain new insights from the pages of this book or not, but that’s precisely why I enjoyed it so much. It’s easy enough for a layman to read, but I don’t doubt that it would also be a great resource for scholarly research.
While the war years are certainly described in detail, I found Roosevelt’s early years even more fascinating, because they are not as much written about. His time as secretary of the navy, as governor, even the domestic policy years of his presidency – those all gave great insight into his thinking while making him more human. It’s easy to forget that with all his successes and political savviness, he made his fair share of mistakes. The court stacking scheme during his first term comes to mind. But what made FDR such an exceptional leader and person is that he was able to learn from his mistakes, swallow his pride, and move on.
I also was never quite aware of just how much FDR worked himself to death in the pursuit of what he felt was his duty. Whatever you think of his politics, there is no doubt that he sacrificed his health, and ultimate his life, to the American people.