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The Roosevelt I Knew Hardcover – 1947
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Sadly, few people seem to know about Perkins today or how, as a trusted member of FDR's cabinet, she brought the influence of organized labor into his Cabinet and into his New Deal and changed American life for the better. Wikipedia's summary of her accomplishments is better than mine could be, "With the Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard forty-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation ServiceCivilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. , Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers."
A great woman and this book reflects her modesty--choosing to write it as a personal memoir/biography of her friend, Franklin Roosevelt (she did not find much remarkable about him the first time they met at a local tea dance--FDR a young candidate for local office, she a progressive college student. She was, however, impressed by one thing--the vigorous way he defended Teddy Roosevelt--at that time, an idol to many of the nation's young people, but also very controversial). In that way, this is really a "double biography"--a great American woman's personal remembrance of how her life intersected so importantly with the leader she writes about, FDR. After reading this book, my friend now describes Perkins--not really hyperbolically--as the "Mother of Our Country"). It's a wonderful and important book and would be a wonderful choice for college courses--whether about American history or about great women or even feminism (especially since it is not just "about" Perkins but also written "by" her). I really can't recommend it enough.