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Showing 1-10 of 92 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 106 reviews
on January 25, 2016
This biography is much less about Roosevelt the human man than it is about Roosevelt the political man. If you know that simple fact before you read the prologue, you'll not be disappointed by its context. This is not a biography in the Doris Kearns Goodwin or David McCullough sense ... it is more a study of the life of FDR, politically, and -- to a certain extent -- socially. If you want to hear about his extra-marital dalliances, or his battle with polio, or his relationship with his famous cousin (Theodore) and/or his wife Eleanor, this is NOT the book for you. But if you are a political junkie who wants to learn the inner workings -- as much as one can -- of the political FDR, this book is right up your alley. It is a study of FDR and his politics -- as newspaper editor at Harvard, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during WWI, as state senator, as governor of NY, and as president of the US during the 1930s and the terrible days of the Great Depression. First published in 1956, it is the first of a two-volume set (the author saw fit to separate the Depression years from the WWII years, which is printed in a second volume, called The Soldier of Freedom [1970]). As the title suggests, this one stops with his election to an unprecedented third term in 1940. It's not a casual read, though ... although extremely well written, it reads more like a text book than anything else, and is absolutely bursting with facts, political cartoons of the era, and photos of the man in the first 50+ years of his life. If you love FDR, this is the book for you. If you hate FDR, this is *also* the book for you. If you have no interest at all in FDR, read something else. The Hobbit, maybe, or the Cat in the Hat.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 27, 2015
"Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox” is the first volume of James MacGregor Burns' magisterial two-volume biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It’s the first major scholarly biography of the 32nd President of the United States after his death in 1945. (The second volume, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom," focuses on FDR's wartime presidency during the years 1940-45.)

In "Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox," Burns brilliantly encapsulates FDR’s life from his birth in 1882 through his election to a third term as President of the United States in 1940. Burns touches only lightly upon Roosevelt's early political career as a legislator and governor of New York; the book's primary focus is on FDR as political leader during his first two terms as President (1932-1940). Burns presents Roosevelt as a man of both great ideals and principles (the “Lion”); and a man of great pragmatism and political shrewdness (the “Fox). His ideals and principles gave him the compassion and overall vision he needed to lead America out of the Great Depression, and his practicality and craftiness gave him the tools he needed to make whatever compromises and deals were necessary in order to achieve his overall political objectives.

Throughout this outstanding book, which was first published in 1956, James MacGregor Burns displays both an elegant, fast-paced, and highly readable writing style, and a tremendous depth of scholarly research. Although this book has perhaps become a bit “dated” by recent advances in FDR scholarship, it remains one of the best biographies about Franklin D. Roosevelt currently available. It’s certainly one of my personal favorites. Most highly recommended.
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on April 4, 2016
This book discusses FDR's rise and rule just prior to WW II. In the hands of this master author, the narrative flows and comes alive. The author's theme is the pursuit and possession of political power in the American system. Although the author clearly favors a strong executive and powerful central government, he presents the reader with a balanced view of both FDR and the events that he helped shape. The narrative is not a strict biography of the man. Rather, the focus is on the politics of the times and specifically, how Roosevelt wielded this most amorphous American quality. You don't have to be a Roosevelt partisan to enjoy this book. The author traces Roosevelt’s rise and the peculiar blend of strength and cunning that helped make him a uniquely transformative politician. The book provides context and balance to help the reader understand Roosevelt’s time, his talents, and his flaws.
An insightful and informative book.
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on March 29, 2016
It's long, and it's detailed, and it concentrates more on politics and the country than on the intimate personal life, but it's amazing.
What a guy FDR was - complex, brilliant, a pain in the a**, but ultimately the right man in the right place. Learning how he got from his early life of privilege to his position as champion of the poor and beaten-down is quite illuminating.
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on October 18, 2013
I found this book to be riiveting.
The synthesis required to take twelve years of FDR's presidency and compile it into this telling novel is most impressive.

Perhaps there were a few instances where events ran askew. I would have liked to have learned more of the depression years and also of the court packing plans. However, this pales in comparison to all the vivid elements presented here.
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on January 24, 2017
Too long and not enough information on WWll. I wanted more information regarding events leading up to Pearl Harbor attack,
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on January 1, 2015
This is such an insightful saga that sometimes makes you feel like a fly on FDR's office wall. It also helped explain to me the checks and balances of the US political system and why the President was not free to move at crucial period of the war as well as Roosevelt's relationship with Churchill, Stalin and the allied service chiefs.
I greatly enjoyed this book, so much so that I am now reading the companion volume for the period 1940-1945.
I highly recommend it.
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on January 4, 2017
This was a very engaging biography, and well-researched. It gives insight into FDR's formative years, his character and political strategy, his strengths, and his foibles. I was a little disappointed that I didn't learn more about his worldview. Surely, there were things that he believed which were the driving force behind his actions...I would have liked to see this fleshed out in more detail.
I think we have a lot to learn from Roosevelt, and the course that he set for the Democratic party.
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on December 14, 2014
This is the best biography of FDR I have read because it focuses on his leadership during troubled years (1928-1940) in this country. It does not deal with his personal history unless the personal story contributes or detracts from his leadership. Also of great interest re Roosevelt's presidency was the author's description of the men who governed with him, both supporters and detractors. The author describes Roosevelt as a very human leader, imperfect and perfect.
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on April 21, 2015
I was 8 years old when FDR was inaugurated in 1933, He was to me a mythic figure and that figure is still in my memory. This book has given him flesh and blood. Made him human. Mr. Burns has presented a rounded picture of a very human, caring, clever. courageous and hard working politician. In the background is a Republican Party that has never changed. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned much.
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