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Publisher's Summary

The award-winning author presents a provocative, thoroughly modern revisionist biographical history of one of America's greatest and most influential families - the Roosevelts - exposing heretofore unknown family secrets and detailing complex family rivalries with his signature cinematic flair.

Drawing on previously hidden historical documents and interviews with the long-silent "illegitimate" branch of the family, William J. Mann paints an elegant, meticulously researched, and groundbreaking group portrait of this legendary family. Mann argues that the Roosevelts' rise to power and prestige was actually driven by a series of intense personal contests that at times devolved into blood sport. His compelling and eye-opening masterwork is the story of a family at war with itself, of social Darwinism at its most ruthless - in which the strong devoured the weak and repudiated the inconvenient.

Mann focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, who, he argues, experienced this brutality firsthand, witnessing her uncle Theodore cruelly destroy her father, Elliott - his brother and bitter rival - for political expediency. Mann presents a fascinating alternate picture of Eleanor, contending that this "worshipful niece" in fact bore a grudge against TR for the rest of her life and dares to tell the truth about her intimate relationships without obfuscations, explanations, or labels.

Mann also brings into focus Eleanor's cousins, TR's children, whose stories propelled the family rivalry but have never before been fully chronicled, as well as her illegitimate half brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, who inherited his family's ambition and skill without their name and privilege. Growing up in poverty just miles from his wealthy relatives, Elliott Mann embodied the American dream, rising to middle-class prosperity and enjoying one of the very few happy long-term marriages in the Roosevelt saga. For the first time, The Wars of the Roosevelts also includes the stories of Elliott's daughter and grandchildren.

Deeply psychological and finely rendered, The Wars of the Roosevelts illuminates not only the enviable strengths but also the profound shame of this remarkable and influential family.

©2016 William J. Mann (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Wars of the Roosevelts

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  • Overall
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Superb page turner and wonderful history

This book, with its many characters, all who lived and died so long ago brings life and exquisite detail to the big Roosevelt family in a very personal way. Beautifully read also. The only mistake is that Edith Roosevelt and her daughter in law would never, never raise a pinky finger while drinking tea!

2 people found this helpful

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Roosevelt's & Their 20th Century Influence

I loved this unabashed picture of the Roosevelt family. More than that I loved the picture of the changes in America from WWI through the aftermath of WWII. I am now thirsty for more stories of Eleanor. Because if this book she may now be one if my personal heros.

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Excellent historical account of the Roosevelts.

Well-written, insightful and candid telling of the real story behind one of history's most important families. I Love History!

1 person found this helpful

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Superb Presentation of Family Feuds

The Roosevelt family had an amazingly diverse range of political and social views. The author did his best to present as many of their divergent views as I have ever seen in one place. 21st Century
Reality TV has nothing on the activities of the 20th Century Roosevelts.

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Stopped listening after 3 chapters

We listen to a lot of biographies. Found this slow and having the feel gossip.

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Hard to rate.

I appreciate the facts, the setting, and recognize the source. I just can’t help in reading this book to have lost all my adoration and respect for these historical figures. I feel very disheartening upon concluding this read. I do not regret the knowledge and in fact intend to read other perspectives.

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Saddened by Truth

I was born in 1940 and my parents were both Democrats. Discussions about Eleanor and FDR were the norm, but I knew nothing about the rest of the family or the history of the country. This was a fascinating, informative “read” and I feel enriched for having read it.

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Kept me wanting more!

Amazing detailed and well written. Well worth the read and amazing to listen to while driving. Will listen again soon!

Jessica E. Wiltbank

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EXCELLENT!

Story was well-constructed for great listening. Enjoyed all the new intimate family details that helped further understand the xharacters of all the Roosevelts. 👍

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A matter of relativitty

If you could sum up The Wars of the Roosevelts in three words, what would they be?

The "unknown" Roosevelts

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No...too much detail and food for thought

Any additional comments?

William Mann tears down the image of both Teddy Roosevelt and, to a lesser extent, Franklin. A theme running through the book is Teddy's treatment of his brother Elliot and Elliot's illegitimate son. That Elliot's son married a woman named Mann and adopted her surname made me wonder if William Mann were in some way related to her or her son. William Mann dwells a lot on Eleanor Roosevelt's sexuality, almost obsessively, I would hva thought that in the second decade of the 21st century we were beyond that.