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Publisher's Summary

A one-volume biography of Roosevelt by the number one New York Times best-selling biographer of JFK, focusing on his career as an incomparable politician, uniter, and deal maker

In an era of such great national divisiveness, there could be no more timely biography of one of our greatest presidents than one that focuses on his unparalleled political ability as a uniter and consensus maker. Robert Dallek's Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life takes a fresh look at the many compelling questions that have attracted all his biographers: How did a man who came from so privileged a background become the greatest presidential champion of the country's needy? How did someone who never won recognition for his intellect foster revolutionary changes in the country's economic and social institutions? How did Roosevelt work such a profound change in the country's foreign relations?

For FDR, politics was a far more interesting and fulfilling pursuit than the management of family fortunes or the indulgence of personal pleasure, and by the time he became president, he had commanded the love and affection of millions of people. While all Roosevelt's biographers agree that the onset of polio at the age of 39 endowed him with a much greater sense of humanity, Dallek sees the affliction as an insufficient explanation for his transformation into a masterful politician who would win an unprecedented four presidential terms, initiate landmark reforms that changed the American industrial system, and transform an isolationist country into an international superpower.

Dallek attributes FDR's success to two remarkable political insights. First, unlike any other president, he understood that effectiveness in the American political system depended on building a national consensus and commanding stable long-term popular support. Second, he made the presidency the central, most influential institution in modern America's political system. In addressing the country's international and domestic problems, Roosevelt recognized the vital importance of remaining closely attentive to the full range of public sentiment around policy-making decisions - perhaps FDR's most enduring lesson in effective leadership.

©2017 Robert Dallek (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Robert Dallek has brought a lifetime's immersion in the American presidency to produce what will almost certainly be seen as the most authoritative single-volume biography of our most important 20th Century president. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life is a landmark work that deserves to be placed on the same shelf as those of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., James MacGregor Burns, and William E. Leuchtenburg." (Richard Moe, author of Roosevelt's Second Act: The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War)
"A great liberal historian has written the best one-volume biography about our greatest liberal president. Sparing neither criticism nor admiration, Robert Dallek offers an FDR relevant to our sharply divided nation: a master politician who gained the trust of most of his fellow Americans by empathizing eloquently with their problems and working himself to death to solve them." (Michael Kazin, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad but,

Not bad, but has errors in the side stories used to flesh out story.
Most likely a research assistant errors not caught by the author.

Example: Authors states Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in 1925, it was 1927.
Authors says that all the Doolittle raiders shot down in China died in captivity. 4 survived at POW's thru the war.
These only 2 of 5 caught reading the book. These are "side" story that don't impact the FDR story line, But I would expect an author of this caliber not to make these errors.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A good view of FDR as a political person

Having not read any of the biographies of FDR, D K Goodwin et al, I.have a limited view, but one supplemented by several more focused accounts, WWII management, the depression mostly critical accounts. In sum FDR really does come off as the third great president.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Written by a Roosevelt admirer lacking insight

With the many books written on Roosevelt I feel that this one most likely didn't need to be written. Rather than display the facts and give you a full presentation of Roosevelt's life I feel like the author was a Roosevelt fan boy who wanted to display a full picture but thought that Roosevelt could do no wrong and was justified in some of his shady dealings.