Cover image for The fall of the house of Roosevelt : brokers of ideas and power from FDR to LBJ
The fall of the house of Roosevelt : brokers of ideas and power from FDR to LBJ
Janeway, Michael, 1940-2014.
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 284 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm.
The partners -- Government by brains trust -- Tommy Corcoran and the New Dealers' gospel -- Making the new deal revolution -- The fight for the Rooseveltian succession -- 1945-The New Dealers' government in-exile -- In my father's house -- Rise of an insider -- Ends and means -- Forbidden version -- Receivership -- Enter LBJ, stage center -- 1960-Checkmate -- President of all the people -- Last act.
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E806 .J27 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In the 1930s a band of smart and able young men, some still in their twenties, helped Franklin D. Roosevelt transform an American nation in crisis. They were the junior officers of the New Deal. Thomas G. Corcoran, Benjamin V. Cohen, William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, and James Rowe helped FDR build the modern Democratic Party into a progressive coalition whose command over power and ideas during the next three decades seemed politically invincible.

This is the first book about this group of Rooseveltians and their linkage to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the Vietnam War debacle. Michael Janeway grew up inside this world. His father, Eliot Janeway, business editor of Time and a star writer for Fortune and Life magazines, was part of this circle, strategizing and practicing politics as well as reporting on these men. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of events and previously unavailable private letters and other documents, Janeway crafts a riveting account of the exercise of power during the New Deal and its aftermath. He shows how these men were at the nexus of reform impulses at the electoral level with reform thinking in the social sciences and the law and explains how this potent fusion helped build the contemporary American state. Since that time efforts to reinvent government by "brains trust" have largely failed in the U.S. In the last quarter of the twentieth century American politics ceased to function as a blend of broad coalition building and reform agenda setting, rooted in a consensus of belief in the efficacy of modern government.

Can a progressive coalition of ideas and power come together again? The Fall of the House of Roosevelt makes such a prospect both alluring and daunting.

Author Notes

Michael Janeway is director of the National Arts Journalism Program and professor of journalism and arts at Columbia University.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The House of Roosevelt refers to the Roosevelt coalition that dominated national politics (and much of our political discourse) from Roosevelt's election in 1932 to the middle of the 1960s. Butaneway, a professor of journalism and arts at Columbia University, does not merely trace the decline of that once mighty political force. In this thoughtful and stimulating book, he illustrates how that decline corresponded with a seismic shift in our political attitudes and culture. With both eloquence and a sense of regret,aneway describes an era in which both the populace and the elites generally assumed that government and governmental activism were positive forces for good. It was also an era in which political parties and their structure, both at the national and local level, had immense relevance to the daily lives of people. Now with the Democratic Party in seeming disarray and the word liberal an almost pejorative term, this well-written and valuable examination of the evolution of our body politic is very worthwhile. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This mistitled volume briefly chronicles the integrated political biographies of a dozen or so New Deal figures-LBJ, Tommy "the Cork" Corcoran, Abe Fortas, James Rowe, William O. Douglas, Lee Pressman, Clark Clifford and others-through the years following FDR's death. The book culminates in the late 1960s and endeavors to show these men's impact on national politics well into the civil rights and Vietnam War era. Janeway, director of the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia and author of Republic of Denial, somewhat limits his text by insisting on viewing many events and people through the prism of his parents, journalist Eliot Janeway and novelist Elizabeth Janeway, who played significant but not epicentral roles in this circle. The author also labors to cram the subtle political and policy complexities of no less than five presidencies, plus the vital details of a number of complicated and fascinating lives, into a mere 350 pages. Janeway nevertheless finds space for gossip, such as Douglas and Corcoran falling out during Douglas's messy divorce-a matter of no historical moment. But other diversions are more profound, e.g., Janeway's earnest consideration regarding his father's long denial of his Jewishness. In the end, we have an uneven book, one not concerned with anything that might be remotely described as the fall of the house of Roosevelt, and one that would have needed another 300 pages to have fully accomplished the mission assigned. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Before tracking polls and handlers controlled the political process, politicians depended on specialists and advisers to guide their policies and actions. Son of Eliot Janeway-financial adviser to FDR and other prominent Democrats through the end of the 20th century-Janeway (journalism & arts, Columbia Univ.; Republic of Denial: Press, Politics and Public Life) recalls those days in a personal and insightful narrative. He deftly weaves tales of his father's deal making from the New Deal to the Great Society, with personal reflections about his father's private life during those years. As the stories unfold, Janeway shows that "a combination of events in the 1960s terminated the political environment" that depended on advisers like his father, resulting in a system today that focuses on media image and sound-bite information. Well documented with the extensive use of primary-source material in presidential libraries and collections of personal papers, this book is recommended for history and political science collections in academic and public libraries.-Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Janeway (journalism, Columbia Univ.) is the son of Eliot Janeway, one of a group of friends, acquaintances, or political associates who helped to guide the development of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as he tried to combat the effects of the Great Depression. This book is a fascinating story of the connections formed by the members of this group as they wrestled with the enormous economic difficulties of the 1930s, assisted in the development of ideas and policies, mutually promoted their careers, and reshaped the relationship between the US government and the American people. The book also evaluates the influence wielded by Roosevelt's advisers after his death in 1945. Janeway traces the disappointment, even dismay, these advisers felt during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and recounts the efforts they undertook to put one of their members, Lyndon Johnson, in the White House. Janeway's personal memories of these men and his unique access to previously unavailable letters and documents allow him to make an important contribution to the study of the exercise of power during the New Deal and the struggle of liberal political thought in the following decades. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels and libraries. J. P. Sanson Louisiana State University at Alexandria

Table of Contents

Preface: Public and Privatep. IX
The Partners
1. Government by Brains Trust "God Bless You; Keep Scheming"p. 3
2. Tommy Corcoran and the New Dealers' Gospel "You're Beginning to Be an Operator--How do You Like the Water?"p. 13
3. Making the New Deal Revolution "The Sense of Being Special"p. 28
4. The Fight for the Rooseveltian Succession "Douglas's Army"p. 44
5. 1945--The New Dealers' Government-in-Exile "I Got the Circuit Moving"p. 67
In my Father's House
6. Rise of an Insider "We're Going to Get Hubert Some Dough"p. 91
7. Ends and Means "Baby, You're Superb!"p. 112
8. Forbidden Version "Continue Janeway Inquiry"p. 122
9. Enter LBJ, Stage Center "Average in Honesty, Above Average in Ability"p. 145
10. 1960--Checkmate "Looking Back, the Result was Inevitable"p. 164
11. President of All the People "You Can't Deal with Him Any Longer"p. 183
12. Last Act "We Got Your Man"p. 206
Epiloguep. 219
Notesp. 225
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Indexp. 275