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30 review for FDR: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Of all the presidents before my own time, except Lincoln, I thought I knew and understood Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ted Morgan's provocative and finely balanced biography has shown me I was wrong. In it, FDR becomes far more than the mere colossus bestriding the mid-twentieth century he had always seemed to me, revealing himself as a richly complex man of base hungers, crass manipulations, and magnificent statesmanship. There's something here to surprise everyone, I think, from liberal worshipers t Of all the presidents before my own time, except Lincoln, I thought I knew and understood Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ted Morgan's provocative and finely balanced biography has shown me I was wrong. In it, FDR becomes far more than the mere colossus bestriding the mid-twentieth century he had always seemed to me, revealing himself as a richly complex man of base hungers, crass manipulations, and magnificent statesmanship. There's something here to surprise everyone, I think, from liberal worshipers to conservative antagonists to everything Roosevelt is believed to have been. The programs he initiated during the greatest financial crisis in American history altered the political and social landscape of the country in ways that have not reverted since. That he almost single-handedly created the social safety net has made him anathema to the rock-ribbed team, but the great revelation to me was how much of what he did was in direct service of capitalism and its survival. Morgan puts the lie to the notion that Roosevelt worked for, or allowed, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and makes a substantial effort to admit FDR into the army of those who gave their lives for the country during the war. All in all, for all the disillusionments that liberals will find here, for all the surprises conservatives may find, this is a major biography of one of the preeminent men of modern times, and the development of a rather spoiled young man into one of America's most selfless statesmen is a story well worth reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2016... “FDR: A Biography” is French-American biographer, historian and journalist Ted Morgan’s 1985 biography of the 32nd president. Morgan was born Comte St. Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont but changed his name (to an anagram of “de Gramont”) after becoming an American citizen in 1977. Morgan won a 1961 Pulitzer Prize in journalism and his 1982 biography of Winston Churchill won a Pulitzer Prize. Almost 800 pages in length, Morgan’s biography is a weighty and d https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2016... “FDR: A Biography” is French-American biographer, historian and journalist Ted Morgan’s 1985 biography of the 32nd president. Morgan was born Comte St. Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont but changed his name (to an anagram of “de Gramont”) after becoming an American citizen in 1977. Morgan won a 1961 Pulitzer Prize in journalism and his 1982 biography of Winston Churchill won a Pulitzer Prize. Almost 800 pages in length, Morgan’s biography is a weighty and detailed exploration of FDR’s life. But while written in an unpretentious and intelligible style and refreshingly balanced in its attitude toward its subject, this book does not provide a consistently engaging reading experience. The very best presidential biographies are marvelously descriptive, packed with insight and wisdom, and engage the reader from start to finish. Unfortunately, Morgan’s biography falls short in each of these areas. Surprisingly selective about which characters he robustly describes, most of FDR’s closest advisors, colleagues and family members come across as flat and uninteresting. Their relationships with FDR seem clinical rather than real and generally lack vitality and vibrancy. And although Morgan provides significant detail in this well-researched book, the depth and frequency of analysis he provides is frustratingly uneven. At times he offers fascinating and thoughtful observations about the significance of an event while at other times he inexplicably provides no observations or judgement whatsoever. Nor does he provide much in the way of historical context – at all. Readers who lack a robust understanding of global events during the 1930s and 1940s will fail to connect many of FDR’s actions with the events transpiring around him. Finally, although this is a lengthy and detailed biography, many events of great significance are given surprisingly cursory treatment. FDR’s “First 100 Days” is covered in just a few pages and the first two crucial (and eventful) years of FDR’s presidency disappear in fewer than forty pages. The passage of the Social Security Act and the Securities Act of 1933 are covered so quickly that they could easily be missed altogether. Fortunately, there are many satisfying moments in Morgan’s treatise. While portraying the young FDR as a largely aimless, spoiled aristocrat-in-training the reader is treated to an interesting chapter on his education at Groton. And later, with FDR firmly established in the presidency, Morgan provides a fascinating glimpse into the logistics involved in getting FDR to the Casablanca Conference in 1943. On a more historically significant note the biography offers an extremely thoughtful examination of why it took the Allies nearly three years to mount a cross-Channel invasion of Europe. And almost three-fourths of the way through the book is perhaps its best chapter – devoted to an explanation of FDR’s success as president. These thirty pages are probably the best in the book and provide as close to a character analysis as the author provides. Overall, Ted Morgan’s “FDR: A Biography” is a comprehensive and lengthy biography that proves more frustrating than rewarding. While nominally providing significant detail, Morgan’s book offers few overarching themes or messages and provides remarkably little in the way of penetrating analysis. Readers familiar with FDR and his era will probably find many of Morgan’s anecdotes and detail interesting; those simply seeking an engaging presidential biography will likely leave disappointed. Overall rating: 3 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    ShareStories

    I have always been fascinated by FDR. The fact that he was able to get elected, and indeed re-elected more often than any other U.S. president in spite of the fact that he was unable to walk at all unassisted, says a lot about the man, as well as about the media of the time. The final paragraph in the chapter where FDR and Eleanor marry is telling, especially in light of mental illness. To the outside world, Eleanor was a model wife and mother. Her husband, however, found her mood swings and self I have always been fascinated by FDR. The fact that he was able to get elected, and indeed re-elected more often than any other U.S. president in spite of the fact that he was unable to walk at all unassisted, says a lot about the man, as well as about the media of the time. The final paragraph in the chapter where FDR and Eleanor marry is telling, especially in light of mental illness. To the outside world, Eleanor was a model wife and mother. Her husband, however, found her mood swings and self-laceration baffling. His mother had given him the example of a woman who did not surrender to moods or self-doubt, and whose devotion was never in question. Taught by life that nothing is certain, Eleanor picked her way through the wreckage of her sorrows. What a well-written description of living with mental illness! It is and can be baffling, often to both parties. This paragraph gives us an insight into Eleanor's strength of character.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    This wasn't a bad biography, but it paled in comparison to the ones I have read recently by Robert Caro (of LBJ) and David McCullough (Truman). Perhaps the author tried to cram too much into one volume? Anyway it seemed more to be a recital of facts than a biography where you could feel you were sitting beside the man himself. I had looked it up after seeing the PBS series on the Roosevelts - that also may have influenced my feelings on the book, as the PBS series was very accessible, albeit sho This wasn't a bad biography, but it paled in comparison to the ones I have read recently by Robert Caro (of LBJ) and David McCullough (Truman). Perhaps the author tried to cram too much into one volume? Anyway it seemed more to be a recital of facts than a biography where you could feel you were sitting beside the man himself. I had looked it up after seeing the PBS series on the Roosevelts - that also may have influenced my feelings on the book, as the PBS series was very accessible, albeit showing much less detail. Anyway, it was OK.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg Brown

    Had this book for a long time before finally deciding to tackle it, wish I had read sooner. Gave me lots of insight into this very complicated man.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nichole

    Full disclosure, I did pick and choose style of reading this book. I skimmed through the lengthy explanation of his parents' childhoods and read up to his presidency but not through it. I learned a lot about what made FDR who he was and the same with Eleanor. I found it very interesting but also filled with a lot more details about every person FDR ever met than I ever wanted to know.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    good

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Well overall I would say that this was a decent biography of FDR

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Egan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lee Howgate

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Craig

  12. 5 out of 5

    David San Filippo

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  14. 4 out of 5

    Exapno Mapcase

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen Shelton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt Walters

  17. 4 out of 5

    Garret Fox

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom Nap

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard Marney

  20. 4 out of 5

    K.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Grindy Stone

  22. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ken

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark.Scheid0756

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul Cornelius

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steven Lowe

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patty

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve

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