32 - Franklin D. Roosevelt
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No Ordinary Time
As a boy, Roosevelt visited president Grover Cleveland and Cleveland told him never to become the president.
Roosevelt was the first president to appear on television.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office longer than any other president. He served three consecutive terms and died during his fourth.
Roosevelt's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, never entrusted her son with managing the family's money because she didn't think he was up to the task.
He was the first president to have a presidential aircraft.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was a fifth cousin once removed of his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, and a seventh cousin once removed of Winston Churchill.
He was the first president whose mother was eligible to vote for him.
Roosevelt was related by either blood or marriage to eleven other Presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and George Washington.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's favorite sport was swimming.
He was named after a great-uncle, Franklin Hughes Delano
A key figure in the book is Brigadier General Brehon Somervell who pushed the Pentagon project through to a quick and timely success.
Harry Truman also appears in the book as a junior senator from Missouri who is appalled by Somervell's attitudes about devoting huge finances to the project.
FDR by Jean Edward Smith is also good, in that it covers the basics, but in a much less compelling way.
And....as an audio, Ed Herrman is an outstanding narrator, and Goodwin gives us an introspective intro and pleasant wrap-up. Well worth your time, particularly as a supplement.
This is a really good potted history of a big man, a story "written small" about a person who "wrote large" on the world as we now know it. As with other books by Nathan Miller that I have read, he has crammed an awful lot into a small space and he has done it in a manner which is informative, as complete as possible and very readable. I believe that Mr. Miller chose not to elucidate on a lot of FDR's very personal characteristics for fear that they might get in the way of this story of how such a man was so instrumental in making USA what it is now. Like Churchill, Roosevelt was a man for the times and we should probably be thankful for that. It is scary to think of what Al Smith or Alf Landon would have made of the situation that needed to be dealt with and those that arose. At the end of the book I wasn't sure that I actually liked FDR, although I felt I should have, but I liked what he did.
I think that Mr. Miller's treatment of Theodore Roosevelt in another book was better than his treatment of Franklin in this one but it is still a good biography and I recommend it to anyone reading bios of the Presidents.
Subtitled: "Intimate Glimpses of Franklin D. Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia, 1924-45". The style of writing is a cross between Grandma Moses and Early Corporate Report. The Grandma Moses part is primitive but very sweet. The Corporate Report part is pedestrian, factual and informative. There are some nice personal photographs included. Having once read "F.D.R.: The Beckoning of Destiny", I enjoyed the simple treatment and the obvious adulation in which he was held by the Warm Springs community. It tells of one side of a man to which there were many.
by H W. Brands
The only reason I hesitate to say this is the best presidential biography I've read is because it's been so long since I've read some of the others and I don't trust my memory. Professor Brands has written a highly enjoyable book. He starts out recounting the events of Roosevelt's morning on December 7th 1941, intercut with vignettes from Pearl Harbor and the surrounding seas. In the process he mentions some of the things Roosevelt had done, giving a picture of what his presidency had accomplished and where it stood with the American people. The prologue ends with the opening words of Roosevelt's address to Congress on December 8th. Not that I needed it, but it made quite an appetizer for the full biography.
I ended up going through the book at a pretty good pace. Professor Brands painted an informative and engaging picture of Franklin Roosevelt and the events of his life. Of course, both Roosevelt and the current events of his life make fascinating subject matter. While the overall tone is positive, Brands doesn't hesitate to point out the points where Roosevelt erred or was less than honorable. I often ask myself, as I read through these presidential bios, if I would vote for the man I'm reading about. I can see myself having many reservations with Franklin Roosevelt. He was very much a politician, never hesitating to employ some spin or play to his audience. But his presidency had so much influence on the America I grew up in--what I think of as "normal"--I can't help but see myself casting my vote for him despite any reservations. In fact, I'd even be tempted to award the man, at least as presented in this biography, the title of America's greatest president to date. He had the character to lead the country through two of the biggest crises in our history and, for good or ill, accomplished an incredible amount during his long administration.