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 personal battles and also tackles head-on and in depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelt's political career.
Summing up Roosevelt's legacy, Smith gives us the clearest picture yet of how this quintessential Knickerbocker aristocrat 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 not well understood. Written for the general reader and scholars alike, FDR is a stunning biography in every way worthy of its subject.
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©2007 Jean Edward Smith; (P)2007 Books on Tape
"A magisterial biography...the author's eloquent synthesis of FDR's complex and compelling life is remarkably executed and a joy to read." (Publishers Weekly)
Not the best political biography I have ever read but certainly in the excellent category. Just enough facts without getting into the mind-numbing details that a McCulloch or Caro biography can. I always rate the book and the reader/production since there are some readers and some productions that can ruin the book as an audiobook. This reader was fine and there was not a lot of unnecessary music etc.
Awesome. You know its a good book when you a) wish it were not over and b) feel like you lost a personal aquaintance at the end of the biography and c) feel like re-reading(listening) again. I thought this was an oustanding biography, rapidly moving and insightful into both the character and facts about FDR. The author does inject his perspective or opinion clearly in some areas, for instance about the Yalta conference, he clearly puts in many references that indicate that he does not believe FDR was impaired at that time.
My only regret is that the biography ends right at his death, with no retrospective summary of what the author thought FDR meant or what he thought his strnegths and weaknesses were, including any thoughts on the downstream consequences of his actions.
In addition, the narration is outstanding, extremely well paced and inflected. As good as any download I have listened to.
Jean Edward Smith (Eisenhower in War and Peace, FDR and Chief Justice Hughes, Traitor to His class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) also published an outstanding biography titled FDR in 2008. I must disclose that I am a fan of Smith’s biographies and have completed almost all of them. This biography is longer than some will tolerate, but well worth the effort. It fully details the split between FDR and ER, the President’s relationship with his children, his handling of the War, his approach to the Depression, and the holding of Japanese US citizens. The most interesting passage for me covered his friendship with Churchill and Lend Lease. Anyone who didn’t live through this American era or in the shadow of FDR, will be more than rewarded for learning about this time in our history. Wade into the book, swim through some pages, and see if you don’t agree. Certainly, Jean Edward Smith has a knack for bringing history in general to the general reader through biography. The narration of Marc Cashman is excellent
I bought this book specifically to listen to after hearing Teddy Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life. The TR book really set the bar high and I honestly did not expect this one to be as good, but this one is every bit as good or better. It is very well written and is detailed, but only focuses on the issues and events that significantly impacted FDR and his presidency, so it is not overly detailed. It is very well read and I really enjoyed this book.
The author definitely did a remarkable research on this biography, but the result is too heavy to digest. Except for a few parts of the book (mostly after the start of WWII), I did not feel engaged with FDR. I felt like I was reading a boring bureaucratic memo.
I can't help constrasting this biography with "Truman", by David Macullough, whose historical research is just as good as Jean Edward Smith's - and it's far better to listen/read.
The narrator did a good job, though.
Jean Edward Smith did a really nice job with his biography of one of the most interesting men in American history. The book was well organized and covered all the important moments in detail. It's loaded with information, but it remains an easy read.
I have a couple of issues with the book that, in my mind, keep it from being a 5-star gem. First of all, it's hard to determine Eleanor's role in this book. Smith describes ER's upbringing in great detail, and a quarter of the way through the book, I wondered if it was going to be essentially a co-biography. Then, ER kind of goes away, and she's barely mentioned in the presidency period at all. That's OK, but why was so much time spent on her in the beginning?
Second, I felt Smith's handling of the war was questionable. He spent way too much time describing Japan-U.S. relations and the friction between them prior to Pearl Harbor. Some of it was necessary; most was not. Then he strangely glossed over D-Day, giving no particulars of the actual operation beyond the planning stages. I would have preferred a few more FDR anecdotes to all the Japan stuff because it was, after all, an FDR book.
Finally, I don't like when these long biographies just end with the subject's death. A recap of his significance, details of the country's reaction to his death, info about the funeral -- something to tie a bow around the story you've just told, especially when the death is so sudden like it was with FDR.
I know I focused on the negative; most other reviews touched on the positives, and there were many. Smith is a skilled researcher and writer, and this is a book anyone could enjoy. I thought his Grant biography was better, but this one was good as well
Smith's account of FDR's early years, his family history, the run-up to the attack on Pearl.
depiction of FDR's character
reliable but dull in places
FDR: a public life
writing was workmanlike but lacked inspiration in places.
Love detailed history written in as unbiased a manner as is possible. My passion has always been American History but I also enjoy world history.
Well balanced account of FDR as a person. Good listening material and gave me a new insight into a person I did not really like.
One of the best
Although a history buff, I learned things about this great man I never knew.
I liked the book overall, but I would have liked a little more detail on some of the stuff that you aren't going to read about in most histories of the period.
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