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The Roosevelts: An American Saga Hardcover – June 15, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Roosevelt dynasty that gave the U.S. two presidents was divided into hostile factions, show Collier and Horowitz ( The Kennedys ). Theodore (TR), the Republican president from 1901 to 1909, led the Oyster Bay branch of this New York family, while his cousin Franklin (FDR), a four-term Democratic president (1933-1945), represented the Hyde Park Roosevelts. Relying heavily on quotes from earlier studies, the authors deliver an entertainingly gossipy but unbalanced history of the clan that focuses on TR, FDR and their wives and children. Bestowing a heroic man mantle on TR, they justify his controversial acquisition of Panama while portraying him as a caring family man. FDR, who overcame the crippling effects of polio, is credited with shrewd political instincts but presented as emotionally withdrawn. The most unflattering portrait is of Eleanor, TR's niece and FDR's wife, who is depicted as unattractive and neurotic, a terrible wife and mother who was responsible for the problems of her five adult children. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Portraits of the Oyster Bay and Hyde Park Roosevelts, always hung separately, are now framed together by Collier and Horowitz, family biographers of the Rockefellers, Kennedys, Fords, and, recently (by Collier alone), The Fondas (LJ 1/91). The preface advertises "a family civil war with almost Homeric overtones," yet the misdeeds, squabbles, and triumphs cataloged here more readily call to mind an average TV miniseries than classical epic. Academic libraries can pass because scholars will find nothing new concerning Theodore, Eleanor, or Franklin and little of interest about the lesser-known generations that followed. The book is an optional purchase for public libraries, whose readers will enjoy a more satisfying read in any one of many more finely crafted books about either Roosevelt branch.
Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671652257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671652258
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,599,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is by far one of the best sources on the Roosevelt family. The authour makes much of the family divisions, but weaves together a masterful portriat of the two sided Roosevelt clan. The "Oyster Bay" clan (T.R.) and the "Hyde Park" clan (FDR) You'll read about T.R's early life struggles, his warm relationship with his children, and his bravery. You'll read about Franklin and Eleanor's difficult childhoods and marriage, Franklin's infidelties, Eleanor's possible lesbianism and anti-semitisim and Alice Roosevelt Longworth's famously sharp tounge. This book is hard to put down, a great read!!
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Format: Paperback
Peter Collier's The Roosevelt's: An American Saga, is a fascinating look at this famous family. Most people have a general knowledge of presidents Theodore Roosevelt (TR) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), but they may not be aware of the extended family history.

The saga of the Roosevelt's in America begins with the arrival of Claes Martenszen van Rosenvelt in the 1600's. But this story really belongs to TR and FDR. The two presidents were 5th cousins, and came from different branches of this prolific family. TR was part of the Oyster Bay clan, while FDR came from the Hyde Park branch. Their families weren't particularly close, although they did move in the same New York social circles. They even pronounced their names differently ("Roos-e-velt" vs. "Rose-e-velt").

TR blazed a political path as he became governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, vice president, and then president. TR wanted his son to continue his political trailblazing, but the young Teddy Jr. was unable to do so. Along came FDR and while he belonged to a different political party, he followed TR's example almost to the letter (governor of New York, Assistant Naval Secretary and then president). But instead of bringing the families closer together, it actually drove a wedge between them. FDR was always considered a lightweight by the Oyster Bay side. Now he was looked upon as a traitor and a usurper. Some of the Oyster Bay Roosevelt's even campaigned against FDR. Eleanor Roosevelt (an Oyster Bay Roosevelt who married her Hyde Park cousin) was a bridge between the two groups, but even that wasn't always enough. While everyone tried to remain civil, it wasn't always possible.
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Format: Paperback
As a U.S. History teacher I often get this question when my classes reach the early twentieth century: "How are Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt related - were they brothers, or father-and-son"? When I point out that they were distant cousins, the students are amazed, and I suspect that many Americans with only a minimum knowledge of history would be, too. As this excellent book by Peter Collier and David Horowitz points out, there were two distinct branches of the Roosevelt family. One branch became Republicans and settled into the wealthy neighborhoods of Manhattan and Oyster Bay, on Long Island; while the other branch became Democrats and lived on a huge, English-style estate along the Hudson River in upstate New York. Although the two branches of this Dutch-descended family got along fairly well in the nineteenth century, in the early twentieth century a venomous feud erupted between the children of Theodore Roosevelt and their distant yet ambitious cousin, Franklin, and his revenge-minded wife, Eleanor. The first part of this book focuses on the rise of Theodore Roosevelt to fame and power in politics. In many ways "TR" represented the best of the American past - he was young (at 42 the youngest ever to become President), dynamic, and progressive. His large brood of children were no less energetic and flamboyant (in particular his eldest child Alice, who shocked polite society by smoking in public and making "unladylike" comments - Theodore himself said that he could "be President or control Alice, I cannot possibly do both"). As their beloved father grew older and his political star began to wane after 1909, his children assumed that the mantle of family and national leadership would be passed on to his oldest sons, especially Theodore, Jr.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
What Collier and Horowitz do in this book is weave a tale not of two seperate Roosevelt clans vying for political power, but of the succession of one branch into prominence following the decay of the other. The intriguing side-plots involving the two families reads like a royal family of America. FDR and Teddy are not the only Roosevelt's analyzed here, their children and their remarkable (and sometimes scandalous) lives are exposed as well. A well researched book that illuminates a historical American political dynasty
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Format: Paperback
I'm not an expert, but I've always been interested in history. Before reading this book, I had made several visits to Oyster Bay, NY (the home of Teddy Roosevelt) and Hyde Park, NY (the home of FDR). I vaguely knew that Teddy was Eleanor Roosevelt's uncle and that Eleanor married her cousin--FDR. But I didn't know that Teddy and FDR were actually fifth cousins, or that Eleanor's father was Teddy's younger (by two years) brother, Elliott. Elliott's wife tragically died young. Elliott, an alcoholic, passed away two years after his wife, leaving two orphaned children--one of whom was Eleanor Roosevelt, the future First Lady.

I also never knew about the 100-year-old feud between the two sides of the family. Teddy Roosevelt was the quintessential all-American hero, and it was always assumed that his oldest son, Teddy Jr., would follow his father into politics. But somewhat surprisingly, cousin Franklin, although crippled by polio, went on to become our only four-term President, and the Oyster Bay clan declined in influence. Unfortunately, none of the younger family members could live up to either Teddy Sr. or FDR.

This is the story of the entire Roosevelt clan over a 100-year period--siblings, children, wives, husbands, neices, nephews, grandchildren--not just Teddy Sr. or FDR. So, there are a lot of people to keep track of. Certain first names--like Anna, Eleanor, Theodore--were given again and again to different generations of the family, and I found myself frequently consulting the family tree at the beginning of the book to keep everyone straight! Also, I did find a couple of errors with ages and dates, which should have been caught in fact-checking. And the book lags a bit in the middle, and again at the end (when the focus is off Teddy Sr. and FDR). It's also a little dry at times. But all in all, this is a fabulously researched book. If you like American history, I think you'll really enjoy it.
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