Although previous books have dealt with Eleanor Roosevelt, this is the first to focus on her White House years. Maurine Beasley, a scholar with extensive knowledge of Eleanor's life and times, provides a detailed examination of the innovative first lady that will enlighten those who think they already know her. Rich with detail, it effectively links her social activism from her early life, through the White House years, and to her work after FDR's presidency. From the ways in which Eleanor earned a living to the domestic arrangements in the White House, Beasley is an insightful and informed guide to the historical issues surrounding Mrs. Roosevelt's performance, describing how she took the ambiguous position of first lady and transformed it into an institution of the American political system.
Beasley leaves no stone unturned as she casts fresh light on Eleanor's relations with Franklin, the people around her, and the causes she championed. She explores how personal relationships led Mrs. Roosevelt to hone political skills that redefined the position of the first lady for years to come. And as she enlarges our understanding of Eleanor's use of media to disseminate her political views, Beasley illuminates her complex network of personal relationships, finances, contributions to New Deal programs, and extensive publicity commitments.
Here is a book that will reward general readers interested in Eleanor's historical importance and inform specialists looking for judicious appraisals of her words, her deeds, and the controversies that surrounded her. Anyone interested in the enigma that was Eleanor Roosevelt will discover here a rich trove of essential information for understanding how this dynamic and troubled woman succeeded in transforming the institution of the first lady during a dozen years of activism and commitment.
- ISBN-13: 9780700617272
- ISBN-10: 0700617272
- Publisher: University Press of Kansas
- Publish Date: October 2010
- Page Count: 304
Series: Modern First Ladies
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-01-10
- Reviewer: Staff
The latest in the Modern First Ladies series covers no new ground. Beasley (First Ladies and the Press) focuses on Roosevelt's work in the White House without referencing any significant paper or record. Instead, the bulk of the book examines Roosevelt's press conferences for female reporters (an innovative idea at the time that, in Beasley's hands, reveals nothing) and news accounts of her trips on behalf of the New Deal. This leaves out much of Roosevelt's fascinating personal history; in fact, it seems that Beasley races through Roosevelt's early life to get to the minutiae of her meetings with the press. Although Beasley comments on Roosevelt's personality, she fails to premise her conclusions within empirical contexts, making them little more than opinion. There are better Eleanor Roosevelt biographies out there. Photos. (Oct.)