One of NPR's 10 Best Books of 2016 "Heartachingly relevant...the Eleanor Roosevelt who inhabits these meticulously crafted pages transcends both first-lady history and the marriage around which Roosevelt scholarship has traditionally pivoted." -- The Wall Street Journal The final volume in the definitive biography of America's greatest first lady. Read more...
Customers Also Bought
One of NPR's 10 Best Books of 2016 "Heartachingly relevant...the Eleanor Roosevelt who inhabits these meticulously crafted pages transcends both first-lady history and the marriage around which Roosevelt scholarship has traditionally pivoted." -- The Wall Street Journal The final volume in the definitive biography of America's greatest first lady.
"Monumental and inspirational...Cook skillfully narrates the epic history of the war years... a] grand biography." -- The New York Times Book Review Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR's death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt's death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues--economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue--when they were sidelined by FDR while he marshaled the country through war. The chasm between Eleanor and Franklin grew, and the strains on their relationship were as political as they were personal. She also had to negotiate the fractures in the close circle of influential women around her at Val-Kill, but through it she gained confidence in her own vision, even when forced to amend her agenda when her beliefs clashed with government policies on such issues as neutrality, refugees, and eventually the threat of communism. These years--the war years--made Eleanor Roosevelt the woman she became: leader, visionary, guiding light. FDR's death in 1945 changed her world, but she was far from finished, returning to the spotlight as a crucial player in the founding of the United Nations. This is a sympathetic but unblinking portrait of a marriage and of a woman whose passion and commitment has inspired generations of Americans to seek a decent future for all people. Modest and self-deprecating, a moral force in a turbulent world, Eleanor Roosevelt was unique.
- ISBN-13: 9780670023950
- ISBN-10: 0670023957
- Publisher: Viking
- Publish Date: November 2016
- Page Count: 688
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-19
- Reviewer: Staff
In the third and concluding volume of this splendid biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, Cook doesnt have to make a case for her subject. Roosevelts life and character do that well enough on their own. If theres a theme to the volume, its the way Roosevelt moved out of her husbands massive shadow during WWII to live an active, complex, and independent life well before F.D.R.s death in 1945. All the while, she was part of one of historys most powerful and enduring partnershipsa partnership of mutual respect and shared commitmentsand she was often F.D.R.s stand-in, though at other times she was silenced for political or security reasons. Always in Roosevelts corner, Cook skillfully weaves her subjects active and emotional life among friends and family members into the depiction of her public role. The champion of human rights, the anti-Fascist, the foe of anti-Semites, the protector of the ill and infirm, the superb personal diplomat is everywhere in sight, as are Roosevelts sometimes-bitter disagreements with, and disappointments in, her husband. If theres any criticism of this otherwise superb book, its that it simply peters outat the end of these three fine volumes, readers look for and deserve a summation, a rounding-out, and Cook never provides one. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary. (Nov.)
Eleanor Roosevelt's work in civil rights and refugee resettlement
In her exhaustively researched and beautifully written Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962, the concluding volume of her definitive biography, Blanche Wiesen Cook gives us a sympathetic but very human portrait of this “First Lady of the World.”
Roosevelt’s public life was devoted to persuasion, and she used her many roles as president’s wife, newspaper columnist, author, public speaker, educator, presidential envoy and activist to influence events. In the midst of this work, she had to handle family matters and pursue private interests with many friends, whose rivalries and jealousies are detailed here. She admitted she “would never be any good in politics,” whereas her husband dealt capably with politicians and public opinion, which sometimes meant maneuvering through racial prejudice and anti-Semitism to reach a compromise or just inaction. Though she never overtly opposed FDR’s policies, a close reading of her columns reveals divergences.
Two primary themes of this volume are Roosevelt’s civil rights work for African Americans and her efforts to rescue those fleeing the ravages of World War II in Europe. The depth of her involvement in these two efforts is one of the most compelling aspects of the book. Her sharp differences with her husband on these subjects contributed mightily to an already strained relationship between them. She had a significant influence on some of her husband’s decisions, although it is often difficult to trace. Both were keenly aware that it was politically unacceptable for her to appear to have influenced policy; her husband never publicly acknowledged “her role in his life.” Eleanor said they “argue about everything in the world,” but never tried to influence each other. Each would do, she said, what he or she “considered the right thing.”
She was unanimously elected chair of the United Nations committee that wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was to be “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” Since its passage in 1948, it continues to be the most important U.N. declaration on behalf of basic political freedoms, as well as economic and social rights.
Anyone interested in the life of this towering figure in 20th-century history will want to read this book.