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Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life Hardcover – April 29, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Persico (Roosevelt's Secret War) engagingly and eloquently narrates the tangled relationships between Franklin and the various women to whom he became close, including his mother; his wife; Lucy Mercer (the young Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary during WWI and later Mrs. Winthrop Rutherford); his longtime secretary, Missy LeHand; and his distant cousin Margaret (Daisy) Suckley. These relationships have been examined before; the major revelation of the volume—backed up by documents recently discovered by Mercer's descendants—is that her relationship with FDR continued throughout his life, even after it was supposedly ended by Franklin at the demand of his mother, who threatened to cut off both his income and his inheritance were he to leave his wife and family. (Previously, it was believed that FDR's relationship with Mercer only rekindled once Franklin's mother died, at the very end of his own life.) Another intriguing aspect of the book is Persico's informed speculation on how Franklin's frequently nonchalant womanizing affected Eleanor, who appears, quite possibly, to have pursued several relationships of her own, both hetero- and homosexual. In sum, Persico offers what will prove an important, lasting addition to the literature of the Roosevelts. (Apr. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Just when you thought you knew everything about Franklin D. Roosevelt, think again. Joseph E. Persico [is] one of America’s finest historians. . . . You can’t properly understand FDR the man without reading this landmark study.”—Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University

“Persico’s exploration of FDR’s emotional life is fascinating.”—USA Today

“Persico is judicious in his treatment of these sensitive matters. . . . He understands that Lucy Mercer helped FDR awaken his capacity for love and compassion, and thus helped him become the man to whom the nation will be eternally in debt.”—Washington Post Book World

“A stylish and well-written book filled with interesting characters, marital dramas and spylike subterfuge.”—Chicago Tribune

“A powerful narrative that rarely fails to pull you along to the next chapter. ”—Louisville Courier-Journal

“Utterly absorbing.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064422
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064427
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #741,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Biography is a form of archeology. Over 60 years after Franklin Roosevelt's death, new information is still coming to light, including recently discovered correspondence with Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd. Persico, who authored the superb "Roosevelt's Secret War", uses this and previously discovered documents (including the diary of Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, FDR's cousin) to draw a portrait of a man whose Byzantine personality has baffled researchers and biographers for decades. FDR preferred the presence of women over men, not only romantically but for ordinary company. Perhaps because with women, he did not feel the need to prove anything, perhaps because he loved gossip, FDR revealed himself and the workings of his mind more to women than to men. Previous biographers have referred to the sinuosity of FDR's thought process and his "feminine" mind (this is not meant as an aspersion against his essential masculinity, but reflects a flexibility of which many men are not capable). Persico reveals much of that by detailing his relationships with several women, including his mother Sara, Eleanor, Lucy (truly the love of his life), Missy LeHand, Daisy Suckley, Dorothy Schiff, and his daughter Anna. He also details Eleanor's relationships with Earl Miller, Lorena Hickok, and David Gurewitsch (the latter a younger doctor on whom Eleanor had something of a schoolgirl crush on during her later life.) Persico is impartial, and neither tries to obfuscate nor sensationalize the nature of these relationships. He presents the facts as they are and lets the reader draw the conclusions.

Now the bad news...

There are so many factual errors in this book it's hard to keep track of them, errors which could have been easily avoided with some quick fact checking.
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Format: Hardcover
Joseph Persico presents a very interesting picture of FDR in FRANKLIN AND LUCY. Except for newly released letters from the estate of Lucy Mercer Rutherford there is not a whole lot new or revealing to the well known story about FDR's romantic relationships. His theme is essentially FDR's relationship with various women, including Eleanor, and how you can see his personality based on these relationship. The book is also revealing has to his relationship with Eleanor, but there is essentially nothing new. As a person who has always been a fan of FDR, the book gives a darker side of the man. Although he promised Eleanor he would never have any further contact with Lucy, Persico presents good evidence that they stayed in contact over the years. The resulting conclusion being that he never kept his promise to Eleanor and raises the question of how FDR should be judged as a man, a husband and a leader. Although I was well aware of his relationship with Missy Lehand, Persico emphasizes how FDR distanced himself from Missy when she fell ill. Although he made provisions for her in his will and obviously cared for her, he could not deal with a disabled Missy.

I thought that Persico's description of FDR's relationship with Dorothy Schiff was the weakest of the relationships covered.

Generally I thought this work was well done and a very interesting read. There are numerous bios of FDR and cover many aspects of his life. Persico sets out to deal with this one aspect of FDR's life and accomplishes that task.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read but a single work by author Persico prior to this (Piercing The Reich), I was unsure of what to expect in a book ostensiby about a man and his relationships with women. Having read a number of books on Roosevelt describing his disingenuous, Byzantine, unforthcoming dealings with men, I was not surprised that he ran true to form with women. However, this book broke some new ground.

First and foremost was the particular stress on FDR's being crippled and unable to walk and how that worked out to be both a hindrance and a blessing. Here the narrative was extremely productive.

Second, this book discusses FDR and his female entourage from the point of view of a very sympathetic woman. One wonders if this book was actually written by Persico or by his wife or daughter. For example, considered this discourse on page 246: "Schiff's fascination with FDR further displayed the superiority of women in their attitude toward men in that they consider the whole man, his intelligence, power, (wealth??) humor, and charm as producing attractiveness, not simply physical appeal, an approach that cannot always be said of male attitudes toward women." Wow! Who wrote this? Gloria Steinem?

Nonetheless, this books brings together FDR's relationships with those women close to him into fascinating focus with but a passing mention of the world around them. Persico presents the facts carefully, particularly when it comes to "Did they or didn't they?" -- very much in line with the motto of Fox News; "We report -- You decide." Sometimes he begins to moralize as "... Missy was all to ready to ....", but then draws back without passing judgment. I liked that.
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