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Biography of FDR: The 3 Most Interesting Published Works on Franklin Delano Roosevelt

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 07:47 PM

The only U.S. president to be elected to four terms in office, Franklin Delano Roosevelt made an indelible impression upon the country he led from March 1933 until his death in April 1945.

A Baltimore Sun report on political bias among historians shows that, regardless of their political leanings, historians routinely list Roosevelt one of the greatest three presidents ever to have served.

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Aaron David Miller, vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, goes so far as to call FDR the “last great president,” according to NPR.

There is no shortage of books on the biography of FDR, with most seeking to identify how this complex, imperfect mortal managed to lead his nation through some of the most turbulent events in American history. These are three that truly stand out:

1: "FDR: The New Deal Years 1933-1937," by Kenneth S. Davis

Franklin Roosevelt will always be considered a strategic war president. Before that though, he was responsible for coming up with a way to lead the United States out of the Great Depression.

In fact, Roosevelt was swept into office in 1932, three years into the most catastrophic economic collapse in U.S. history. The author does not see Roosevelt’s efforts through rose-colored glasses, but rather analyzes events with the benefit of 20/20 vision.

Davis shows that some of Roosevelt’s decisions as pragmatic, others are erratic, and still others are brilliant. In the end, this is a book about a man and a country called to battle domestic disaster even as the country drifts toward a world war.

2: "Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants, and Their War," by Eric Larrabee

Although this book is essentially a series of short biographies covering nine military leaders during World War II, the man at the center of each character’s experience is Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Rather than take a measure of political winds, Roosevelt honed his role as commander and chief by simply leading. The detailed studies of his relationships with the great military leaders of the day leaves readers with a clearer picture of who ran the war, regardless of which soldier garnered public glory at any given time.

3: "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II," by Doris Kearns Goodwin

It is impossible to tell the FDR story without examining the man’s powerful alliance with his wife, Eleanor. More than simply the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was her husband’s political adviser and sparring partner.

Goodwin describes the White House as a home that included FDR’s love-stricken secretary and a onetime journalist passionately in love with Eleanor.

More important, the wartime White House hosted many of the primary decision-makers of World War II as Allied forces undertook the seemingly impossible task of defeating the mighty Axis powers.

Regardless of her personal feelings at any given time, Goodwin’s book shows Eleanor Roosevelt to be a savvy political partner with her finger on the pulse of the American public.

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The only U.S. president to be elected to four terms in office, Franklin Delano Roosevelt made an indelible impression upon the country he led from March 1933 until his death in April 1945. There is no shortage of books on the biography of FDR, but these are three that truly stand out.
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