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Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Del Audio CD – November 4, 2008
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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.
But I’m guessing it’s just more Brand’s style, and if I really wanted sappy, those bio’s have probably already been written . . . My only other minor complaints are that the end seems kind of rushed, and there was very little written about the WPA program of the 30’s – the one that put 2 million people to work for a while. I like FDR's quote mentioned in the end "great power involves great responsibility." That's a great theme. I'm ashamed to say I thought Spiderman's uncle came up with that. Finally, I’m getting tired of good people dying at the end of their biography. They need to stop that.
He covers the entirety of Roosevelt's life in those pages, from birth to death in a candid fashion.
His approach to the subject was unbiased and very well written.
FDR was one of the most interesting Presidents being elected more than any other American President and leading the country through some of the most challenging times.
What makes this book so intriguing is the way Franklin D. Roosevelt navigated politics. In the book you read about how well he normally sized up political issues, solutions, his opposition, and a shrewd way of selling his ideas and even himself as a prospective office holder.
This book covers all of the monumental events of his life, mostly his presidency.
I recommend this book highly for anyone interested in reading about FDR.
Top reviews from other countries
Of the FDR biographies I have read, I would argue that Roger Daniel's was more detailed, being two volumes, but this book is just as good, because (maybe unintentionally) it is trying to argue that, contrary to the title, FDR was a deliberately "Goldilocks" president, and not be too radical, or "wide eyed crazy" to get himself through the White House door, while being radical enough to effect real change. This is in contrast to today's Democratic "Squad", who I sometimes feel prioritise intellectual purity over getting things done.
All in all, this is a good book, and if you're looking for a straightforward forward FDR biography, this is a good place to start. My grumbles would be that FDR's radicalness didn't seem all that radical till it was pointed out at the end, at which pointed he seemed more like a successful Tony Benn (a British politician with a similar background, and similar urges to change society).
Another other grumble would be that a good chunk of the Roosevelt money came from the fact that one of FDR's forebears was effectively a Chinese drug dealer. This is brushed of as being legal at the time. It was, but only because British, and French "gunboat diplomacy" had made it so.
My final grumble would be that given its title, I assumed it would be almost entirely (or at least predominantly) about his presidency. That it wasn't seemed a little odd, given the time.
This said, it is still, a good, and interesting read. It will explain FDR clearly to the reader.
The author comprehensively chronicles not just the political but also the personal story of FDR, the man who reshaped American society, reinvigorated her economy and affirmed the United States position as the leader of the free world.
Overall, this is a first class biography of arguably the most influential President of the twentieth century.