Jean Edward Smith
One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.
This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details. We see how Roosevelt’s restless energy, fierce intellect, personal magnetism, and ability to project effortless grace permitted him to master countless challenges throughout his life. Smith recounts FDR’s battles with polio and physical disability, and how these experiences helped forge the resolve that FDR used to surmount the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the wartime threat of totalitarianism. Here also is FDR’s private life depicted with unprecedented candor and nuance, with close attention paid to the four women who molded his personality and helped to inform his worldview: His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, formidable yet ever supportive and tender; his wife, Eleanor, whose counsel and affection were instrumental to FDR’s public and individual achievements; Lucy Mercer, the great romantic love of FDR’s life; and Missy LeHand, FDR’s longtime secretary, companion, and confidante, whose adoration of her boss was practically limitless.
Smith also tackles head-on and in-depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelt’s public career, including his disastrous attempt to reconstruct the Judiciary; the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans; and Roosevelt’s occasionally self-defeating Executive overreach. Additionally, Smith offers a sensitive and balanced assessment of Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust, noting its breakthroughs and shortcomings.
Summing up Roosevelt’s legacy, Jean Smith declares that FDR, more than any other individual, changed the relationship between the American people and their government. It was Roosevelt who revolutionized the art of campaigning and used the burgeoning mass media to garner public support and allay fears. But more important, Smith gives us the clearest picture yet of how this quintessential Knickerbocker aristocrat, a man who never had to depend on a paycheck, became the common man’s president. The result is a powerful account that adds fresh perspectives and draws profound conclusions about a man whose story is widely known but far less well understood. Written for the general reader and scholars alike, FDR is a stunning biography in every way worthy of its subject.
From the Hardcover edition.
hours after the bill was introduced.99 “The issue seems to be plain,” said California’s Hiram Johnson. “Shall the Congress make the Supreme Court subservient to the Presidency?”100 Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, the first member of the Senate to endorse FDR in 1932, was scathing. “The court plan is not liberal,” said Wheeler. “A liberal cause was never won by stacking a deck of cards, by stuffing a ballot box, or by packing a court.”101 Wheeler emerged as the consensus choice to lead the
4. The quotation is from Dr. Isaac’s brother-in-law, William Henry Aspinwall, reported in Ward, Before the Trumpet 21. Also see Steeholm, House at Hyde Park 46. 5. Quoted in Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography 27 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985). 6. Steeholm, House at Hyde Park 40. John Aspinwall Roosevelt, Dr. Isaac’s second and last child, was born in 1840. 7. 3 FDR: His Personal Letters 1224, Elliott Roosevelt, ed. (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950). Like many family stories told by FDR,
ER, Autobiography 66. 82. Quoted in Lash, Eleanor and Franklin 173. 83. Cook, 1 Eleanor Roosevelt 189. 84. Lindley, Franklin D. Roosevelt 85. 85. Ibid. 97. 86. Saratoga Sun, April 1, 1911. 87. Quoted in Ward, First-Class Temperament 150–151. 88. FDR to H. W. Lunger, January 30, 1928. 89. Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 30, 1911. 90. Raleigh News & Observer, April 1, 1911. 91. TR to FDR, January 29, 1911. “I am delighted with your action and told Woodrow Wilson today how he and you are
injured by the governmental action complained of. An individual taxpayer’s injury is “so remote, fluctuating and uncertain, that no basis is afforded for an appeal to the preventive powers of a court of equity.” Sutherland said that if every taxpayer could bring suit, every government policy would be challenged in the courts and the Supreme Court would become the ultimate arbiter of all government policy: “an authority which plainly we do not possess.” (Cf. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968)).
Morgenthau chairman of New York’s Agricultural Advisory Commission and then called him to Washington in 1933 to head the newly established Farm Credit Administration. The following year Morgenthau succeeded William H. Woodin as secretary of the Treasury, a post he held for the duration of the Roosevelt administration. Throughout his career FDR drew heavily on members of the Jewish faith for their skill and expertise. Judge Samuel Rosenman joined Roosevelt’s staff in 1928 as his chief aide and