Cover image for Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Jenkins, Roy, 1920-2003.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Times Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 186 pages ; 22 cm.
Added Author:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Biography
Central Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Collins Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eden Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Eggertsville-Snyder Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Elma Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Kenmore Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Lackawanna Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Lancaster Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
City of Tonawanda Library E807 .J46 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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A masterly work by the New York Times bestselling author of Churchill and Gladstone

A protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only man to be elected to the presidency more than twice. In a ranking of chief executives, no more than three of his predecessors could truly be placed in contention with his standing, and of his successors, there are so far none.

In acute, stylish prose, Roy Jenkins tackles all of the nuances and intricacies of FDR's character. He was a skilled politician with astounding flexibility; he oversaw an incomparable mobilization of American industrial and military effort; and, all the while, he aroused great loyalty and dazzled those around him with his personal charm. Despite several setbacks and one apparent catastrophe, his life was buoyed by the influence of Eleanor, who was not only a wife but an adviser and one of thetwentieth century's greatest political reformers.

Nearly complete before Jenkins's death in January 2003, this volume was finished by historian Richard Neustadt.

Author Notes

Roy Jenkins was the author of twenty-one books, including the New York Times bestsellers Churchill and Gladstone , the latter of which won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Active in British politics for half a century, he entered the House of Commons as a Labour member in 1948 and subsequently served as minister of aviation, home secretary, and chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1977--81 he was president of the European Commission. In 1987 he became chancellor of Oxford University and took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Jenkins of Hill head. He also served as president of the Royal Society of Literature.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Political biography lost a great practitioner with Jenkins' death this year. His writings are pleasurable, informed by his decades in British politics, which gave him a humorous appreciation for the, shall we say, inconsistencies evident in many a politician's ascent to the top. Here, Jenkins develops FDR's marked propensity to dissemble, which in domestic politics enabled him to best rivals such as presidential also-ran Al Smith, but which in other areas, such as foreign affairs, left his reputation vulnerable to trenchant criticism from historians. Jenkins proffers narrative nuggets on both these points, reminding readers that FDR was initially regarded as a political lightweight, in whom no seer could predict the confidence-inspiring leader of the Depression and World War II. Dismissive opinions waned as FDR willed himself back into politics following the onset of polio, and Jenkins illustrates incidents that made FDR such a political magician. Jenkins' valediction is an excellent primer on FDR's character and the reasons for ranking him just a notch below Washington and Lincoln. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Distinguished British historian Jenkins (author of the recent bestselling biography Churchill) died in January 2003. He left this brief biography of FDR for Arthur Schlesinger's American Presidents series largely complete. Now published with a conclusion written by another eminent historian, Richard Neustadt, the volume comprises a concise yet coherent and quite reliable summation of Roosevelt's fascinating life and presidency. Jenkins captures FDR in all his contradictions. As the author astutely notes, although a Knickerbocker squire from New York's Hudson Valley-arguably the most Europe-oriented part of the United States-FDR was "peculiarly successful at transcending geography and uniting the continent." Whomever he met, he charmed, be it some simple farmer or Winston Churchill. But the one he charmed before most others, his fifth cousin and spouse, Eleanor Roosevelt, came to view him cynically. She recognized that intermixed with his enormous capacity and willingness to do good, there was a certain self-serving casualness that permitted numerous petty lies perpetrated on friends, allies and family. Elegantly describing FDR's course through a score of personal and political ordeals, Jenkins astutely shows us the man in all his many incarnations: the confident son of privilege who morphed into a wry, young politico on the rise; the startled victim, for whom all things had previously come so easily, hitting the brick wall of polio and fighting back, strenuously leading his broken country out of its two great 20th-century crises: the Great Depression and World War II. (Nov. 4) Forecast: This is the short alternative for readers unwilling to take on Conrad Black's 1,300-page biography (Forecasts, Sept. 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

More than half a century after Abraham Lincoln's presidency, the first best single volume biography of him was authored by Lord Charnwood (Godfrey Rathbone Benson), and now after only a slightly longer period, another certain classic on America's best president since Lincoln has been authored by another Englishman, Lord Black. The publication of this FDR biography is quite a feat since America's 32nd president served three times longer than its 16th president. A perspective that truly comprehends the global magnitude of America's two greatest chief executives may require the perspective from someone abroad. Author of two previous books and the chairman/CEO of Hollinger International, Inc. (publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Spectator, and the Jerusalem Post), Black is a capable writer, able to sustain interest in a long narrative. However, his major achievement is putting FDR's leadership in both an American and an international perspective. He captures its prudential nature, always aiming for the middle ground between extremists at home (e.g., Huey Long and Douglas MacArthur) and modern ideological dictators abroad. The author clearly understands that FDR was the democratic alternative that made him the most important leader of the 20th century, surpassing the traditionalism of Winston Churchill. FDR's personal shortcomings are fully addressed, but Black shows that they did not undermine his political legacy. Both the general public and scholars will benefit from this highly readable account. An essential purchase for all libraries. Another British observer, Jenkins (Churchill), a Labor Party Member of Parliament and the author of 21 books, had nearly finished this short work on FDR when he died earlier this year. (Political scientist and Harvard professor Richard Neustadt completed it for him.) Jenkins's approach to FDR is generally positive. He notes that had FDR maintained the two-term tradition, he would have been regarded as only a nearly great president. Except for the British interest in social class and occasional comparisons to its leaders, this is a conventional introduction to FDR that political buffs and FDR fans will enjoy reading. Libraries with budget restraints are better served with the Black biography or with Patrick J. Maney's readable but more scholarly short biography, The Roosevelt Presence.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-To distill the life of Roosevelt into a book of less than 200 pages is a major challenge; to succeed in doing so without shortchanging readers is a true accomplishment. As president, FDR faced America's worst financial crisis and the world's most destructive war. He also influenced the larger trends of the 20th century, from the progressive movement of his younger days to the Cold War and the welfare state that followed him. Jenkins admirably describes his subject's background and development and outlines how Roosevelt dealt with the Great Depression and the Second World War. But Jenkins is not only an accomplished biographer, he was also one of the leading British politicians of the second half of the 20th century. His nationality gives him a perspective on FDR that would be difficult to obtain as an American. Likewise, his study of other great political leaders allows him to gain a broader view of Roosevelt as president. This is one of the best short biographies of Roosevelt imaginable.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Editor's Notep. xiii
A Note on the Textp. xvii
1. Roosevelt Cousinsp. 1
2. Portrait of a Marriage That Became Crippledp. 22
3. From Albany to the White Housep. 47
4. The Exciting Ambiguities of the First Termp. 66
5. Setbacks: Political and Economicp. 94
6. Backing into Warp. 115
7. The Hard-Fought Years: December 1941-July 1944p. 132
8. Death on the Verge of Victoryp. 149
Milestonesp. 171
Selected Bibliographyp. 175
Indexp. 179

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