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FDR Paperback – May 13, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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From The New Yorker
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Top Customer Reviews
The footnoting in FDR is highly extensive and the curious reader will look at many of them and make notes to read on additional topics as Smith piques the interest of any with any significant interest in Roosevelt. He, like Lincoln, was the President in a time where it is difficult to imagine, even for his critics, another person assuming the role. Smith explains and documents almost all of FDR's life and gives very plausible reasons for his rather radical views at the time, especially for one with his Hudson River pedigree. He tackles his many physical challenges, his relationship with his peripatetic wife Eleanor (see Doris Kearns Goodwin's No Ordinary Time) , his affair with Lucy Mercer Rutherford, his intimate relationship with Churchill (see Jon Meacham's Franklin and Winston) and his reliance on a cast of eclectic personal and political operatives over the years. All of his public years are well covered, perhaps even more so his early years in New York politics.
There is very little, if nothing to criticize about this book. One could make an argument that Smith tried too hard to keep it a readable 636 pages with and additional 221 pages of notes and an exhaustive bibliography. Maybe two volumes would have improved this work, but that is sheer conjecture. This book must be read by all with more than a passing interest in 20th Century American history. Simply sublime.
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.Read more ›
If you have read many other books on Roosevelt, there are sections of this book that will seem lacking in detail. There is, for instance, no way that Smith can match Doris Kearns Goodwin's marvelous account of the White House in the war years in NO ORDINARY TIME. And Smith can't in a hundred or so pages match what Arthur M.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written. Very engaging. Very informative. Covers some subjects in great detail that I was not aware of.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Good read. Worth reading again sometime. It get a little slow sometimes.Published 2 months ago by T. Squid
Easy to read and well written. I learned a great deal and a new appreciation for this wonderful man.Published 3 months ago by J STERN
History is his story. A la works by other noted historians like McCullough and Morris, Smith dives deep into the what made the character of arguably the greatest American... Read morePublished 5 months ago by robert bruhl