Tags: Presidential History | biography of | FDR | author | depictions | changed

Biography of FDR: How Author Depictions of Roosevelt Have Changed Through Years

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 08:22 PM

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, holds the distinction of having been elected to office four times. It is perhaps natural that books written in the years immediately following Roosevelt’s 1945 death hail him as an American hero.

After all, Roosevelt is credited with leading the U.S. through the worst financial crisis in history and fearlessly guiding Allied forces through the bloodbath that was World War II.

According to Update, a University of Delaware publication, Roosevelt has remained at or near the top of polls rating the greatest presidents since 1948.

Vote Now: Who Was the Greatest American President?

The world has changed in the nearly 70 years since Roosevelt’s death, though. It has become acceptable to mention flaws and failures in the same breath as successes. A biography today of FDR is more likely to attempt to show the man as a whole, warts and all.

During his lifetime, FDR had plenty of detractors. Liberals attacked him for not providing enough relief to suffering Americans, while conservatives shouted that his policies were socialist. No matter what he chose to do, the pain of the Depression prodded people to complain.

Even as he fought to get the country around a financial corner, war loomed in Europe and Roosevelt heard from both those who thought the country should go to the aid of Europe and those who argued vehemently against it.

Still, when Roosevelt died in 1945, there was a halo built around his reputation for a time. The Depression was over and the Allied forces were on the cusp of victory in Europe, so it was easier for people to look back with fondness and admiration.

Urgent: Who Is the Greatest American President in History?

That uncritical approach to examining Roosevelt lasted a few short years until John T. Flynn wrote "The Roosevelt Myth," a critical account of the New Deal, a series of domestic programs designed to help the public and strengthen the economy.

Over time, more books critical of FDR — particularly of the New Deal – were released. American society changed after the assassination of John Kennedy, and writers were suddenly free to tell secrets that were once carefully hidden from public view.

Roosevelt’s marital infidelities became public fodder, and accusations of racism and warmongering were leveled.

Throughout the remainder of the 20th century and into the 21st, the expectation that a president should be treated with uncritical respect eroded. With that erosion has come a group of writers who are more than happy to explore some of the more unpleasant aspects of Roosevelt’s life and presidency.

There are those who say that history cannot be accurately told without taking an unflinching look at both the good and bad. If that is so, there are an abundance of written accounts with an opinion on the topic of FDR.

Vote Here: Which US President Would Be Considered the Greatest in History?

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president, was elected four times. It is perhaps natural that books written in the years immediately following Roosevelt’s 1945 death hail him as an American hero. A biography today of FDR is more likely to attempt to show the man as a whole, warts and all.
biography of, FDR, author, depictions, changed
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2015-22-06
Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 08:22 PM
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