Friday, May 14, 2010
37. Eleanor and Franklin
Rated 5++++ Stars
Who knew the Roosevelts were such interesting people. Given the pitiful state that politics today have sunk to we will never see their like again. In public office anyway.
This is not so much a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt so as an examination of her life with Franklin. Some of this story is both sad in parts but mostly inspiring, and frankly I blown away by it.
Eleanor always saw her self as "just" a housewife and Mother who by circumstances just happened to be the wife to be the wife of the President of the United States. But although she emphatically denied it, Eleanor Roosevelt was a great politician. One who evolved into one of the great pillars of the New Deal and one of the great architects of the post-WWII order through her role in the founding of the United Nations.
The book ends with Franklin's death and its immediate aftermath. Although he was with his mistress when he died, and that fact affirmed his infidelity to her, I really can't entirely blame him. The marriage of Eleanor and Franklin was so highly charged with politics and the causes in which both he and Eleanor most fervently believed that it's hard to really blame him for seeking a little comfort from a not very bright, undemanding woman. And even though I think he felt overwhelmed by Eleanor sometimes he never tried to stifle her, never stood in her way, and always backed her up. And for her part she always did the same for him. They were truly a dynamic duo I don't think either of them would have ever been able to achieve what they achieved without the other.
This is biography at its best.
In the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Eleanor & Franklin "is a beautiful book - beautiful in its scholarship, insight, objectivity and candor." Joseph Lash was secretary and confidant to Eleanor Roosevelt. His book was made into the PBS special of the same name.
About the Author
Joseph Lash won a Pulitzer prize for this biography. he was a longtime associate of Eleanor Roosevelt and is also the author of Eleanor: The Years Alone.