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Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 000-0199732027
ISBN-10: 0199732027
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A respected New Deal historian seems the ideal person to write what amounts to a first book on FDR. At any rate, Brinkley neither worships nor assails his subject, nor repeats his The End of Reform (1995) to the effect that liberalism changed from favoring free trade and personal liberties to prioritizing escalating consumption and economic growth as FDR responded to the overlapping challenges of depression and world war. He hews closely to the key events of Roosevelt’s life and, especially, administration. He notes Roosevelt’s early development of personal secretiveness and a charming facade to mask emotion and inspire others’ confidence. His tracing of Roosevelt’s presidency attests FDR’s pragmatic and experimental problem-solving approach. While reporting incidents that confirm Roosevelt’s preference for saying one thing and doing another, Brinkley doesn’t accuse him of subterfuge and duplicity, which will incense the legions of FDR detractors almost as much as will Brinkley’s silence about the viciously hardball politics they say FDR played. Let the critics fume. This is a good introduction, not a summary judgment. --Ray Olson


"Alan Brinkley's incisive and eloquent biography of FDR clarifies what he achieved and what he did not. Brinkley brings deep knowledge of Roosevelt and the New Deal to help readers understand why Roosevelt's was arguably the most important presidency of the twentieth century."--Lizabeth Cohen, Bancroft Prize-winning author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939

"A perfect gem-like profile of FDR."--Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America and co-author of FDR and the Creation of the U.N.

"Alan Brinkley, the premier historian of the New Deal, has produced the best short biography of the man who led America through one of the most challenging periods in modern history. At a time when analogies between our time and the Great Depression abound, this gracefully written book both informs and delights."--Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan and Professor of History, Georgetown University

"Alan Brinkley has distilled the complex life and career of this remarkable president down to its essence in a lively and illuminating narrative."--Maury Klein, author of The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men Who Invented Modern America

"Big presidents tend to inspire big biographies and FDR is no exception. Noted New Deal scholar Alan Brinkley has bucked the trend with an admirably succinct and readable account that captures the man, his era and his legacies."-- David Reynolds, author of From Munich to Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt's America and the Origins of the Second World War


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199732027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199732029
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is not only badly-needed, but it is a splendid concise life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a thoughtful, shrewd, and learned interpretation of his career by one of America's best historians. The prose is admirably lucid and clear, with occasional elegant turns of phrase. It is never dull (I bought it and read it the same day). And it is remarkably judicious, thoughtful, and even-handed. Brinkley effectively conveys just how experimental, pragmatic, political, and sometimes inconsistent and manipulative Roosevelt was, without traducing the man. All great politicians find themselves drifting or plunging into inconsistency and manipulativeness, and FDR was no exception. Brinkley also deals, concisely yet with sure footing and admirable clarity, with such loaded controversies as whether Roosevelt knew that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent (Brinkley's answer is that he knew that an attack was coming somewhere in the Pacific, but that he had no clue that the target was going to be Pearl Harbor). Brinkley is no idolator of FDR, but he also is honest about his fascination with and ultimate admiration for Roosevelt, and he clinches his case in fewer than 100 pages. Highest recommendation.
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Format: Hardcover
Short review called for, I think. The author had a very tough assigment: write an under 100 page study of FDR, one of the giants of American life. Include important aspects of his personal history along with the key political events, and add carefully considered commentary where needed. To succeed Brinkley needed to have deep knowledge of both the man and the times, which he clearly does. And he had to know what could be left out without losing the critical parts of the story. In this short volume a great deal of context is absent and a lot of rich detail is missing. But it is difficult to imagine a better 100 page biography than Brinkley's. Critics from the right will say it is a favorable protrait, and it is - in the main. Brinkley believes we were lucky to have FDR in charge during those challenging times. But FDR's faults are discussed. His deceptions and manipulations are examined, for example, as are the potential psychological sources for same. There is a lot here, but hopefully most readers will use it as a launching point to delve deeper. Certainly this book will give them a sense of why that will be time well spent.
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Format: Hardcover
What a concept; an insightful and mostly inclusive small book. One that does not level down to a reader, but certainly does fight the bigger is better philosophy. In this busy life it is sometimes overwhelming to be faced with a biography that is huge - this book solves that problem. The statements that do create curiosity can be furthered researched and investigated, such as one that states Roosevelt's struggle to recover from his bout of polio made him more self-centered; little if nothing had been said of Roosevelt's self-center ness before in the pages on his earlier life.
Thirty two pages of the 99 are dedicated to Roosevelt's presidential legislation to lift the nation out of the Great Depression; but his early years and his politics before are not forgotten. Brinkley even includes the little said quote of Churchill's, when he heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; "So we have won after all".
This is indeed an amazingly complete biography that touches on all the important details of Franklin Roosevelt's life. It is a good buy and would be ideal for someone wishing to have a good overview of the well-regarded politician.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book on Roosevelt is very short but contains a large amount of facts. It is exceptionally well-written. If you read nothing else on Roosevelt, read this. I have read quite a bit about Roosevelt, and I enjoyed this book very much. My husband, who is not the reader I am, also enjoyed it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brinkley's "Franklin Delano Roosevelt" is more a précis than a book. Only 90 pages, it clearly highlights the reasons that FDR ranks high in the Parthenon of American Presidents. FDR reshaped the American government, transformed the Democratic Party, successfully led the nation through the hugest war in history and refined liberalism. However, two of FDR's greatest errors of judgment are discussed with little detail: the failure to rescue and provide safe haven from the Holocaust for European Jews, and the blackest mark for the interment camps for Japanese-American citizens. FDR also did very little for American Negroes, at first even failing to give them equality in Social Security benefits. Brinkley's failure to include more details of these errors may leave the reader with a slanted, overly heroic picture of FDR.

Brinkley focuses on the New Deal and World War II, of course, but also gives attention to FDR's youth, his personal life, and his four elections to the presidency. Other than the aforementioned oversights, Brinkley's book is fair and balanced. There is a wealth of information here for a précis, and thus it should serve as a fine introduction to FDR for the novice, or as a useful quick refresher for those whose knowledge of FDR may contain gaps. This book also includes detailed notes and a useful bibliography but, inexplicably, no index.
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