- Hardcover: 896 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385519583
- ISBN-13: 978-0385519588
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 174 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Hardcover – November 4, 2008
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Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: With Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, H.W. Brands penetrates the clenched grin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a masterful biography of one of America's most beloved leaders. Though born into the upper crust of society, FDR dedicated his career to fighting for the common good and the ideals of the American Dream. With the same exhaustive research familiar to fans of his biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson, Brands provides a portrait of an unflinching (and often recalcitrant) figure whose unshakable confidence inspired a beleaguered nation. FDR's path may have been unorthodox (evidenced by an unprecedented 12 years spent as commander-in-chief) and arguably illegal (the New Deal didn't always work well with the Constitution), but his shared goal of a stronger America at home and abroad endeared him to voters of varying backgrounds. "We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern," proclaimed Roosevelt in 1937. "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." -- -Dave Callanan
From Publishers Weekly
It is unfortunate for University of Texas historian Brands (Andrew Jackson) that his serviceable biography of Franklin Roosevelt comes on the heels of Jean Smith's magisterial Francis Parkman Prize winner, FDR (2007). Still, Brands provides an entirely adequate narrative detailing the well-known facts of Roosevelt's life. We have the young Knickerbocker aristocrat somewhat tentatively entering the dog-eat-dog world of local Democratic politics in New York's Hudson Valley. We have him embarking on a marriage with his cousin Eleanor that was fated to be politically successful but personally disastrous. We also have the somewhat spoiled son of privilege facing the first real battle of his life—polio—and emerging with greatly enhanced fortitude and empathy. Appropriately, Brands gives two-thirds of his book to FDR's presidency and its two most dramatic events: the domestic war against devastating economic depression (fought with tools that many in America's upper classes considered socialist), and the international war against Axis power aggression. It is fitting that Roosevelt commands the amount of scholarly attention that he does, but sad that so much is wholly redundant with what has come before. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 4)
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His political involvement began to rise at a time when America had changed from an agrarian to a manufacturing country with property in the hands of a few, and communication was with telegraph, telephone, and radio. Immigrants from all over the world bringing their various religious beliefs and hope for a better life, also brought more obvious class differences, often unequal. When FDR was inaugurated in 1933 one quarter of the country was unemployed and hunger and poverty where everywhere, effecting loss of homes and property and leaving a sense of despair. He immediately began to change the economy, taking bold steps and choosing good men to help, creating the New Deal. As the country makes a turn-around, he is faced with rising world problems; and war in Europe slowly but surely effects the country, driving the isolationists to a minority and bringing the US into a world power of its own.
Throughout the book the reader sees him developing great leadership, making bold decisions and communicating to the American people through radio—his Fireside Chats. The author describes and quotes conversations with many leaders; especially interesting are those of the Stalin, FDR and Churchill as they discuss strategy and post war plans for disarmament, boundaries, the United Nations and other necessary reorganizational issues.
The readers follow his life as he contracts polio in his first term and fights back, keeping his presidency from a wheel chair most of the time throughout his third term, unprecedented, and into the beginning fourth and last to his death in 1945.
For the inquiring reader, included in lengthy and thorough appendix are footnotes and references.