The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency
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The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  129 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Here, from James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, is the story of the greatest comeback in American political history, a saga long buried in half-truth, distortion and myth— Franklin Roosevelt’s ten-year climb from paralysis to the White House.

In 1921, at the age of thirty-nine, Roosevelt was the brightest young sta...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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  • The Man He Became by James   Tobin
    The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency
    Release date: Sep 02, 2014
    Here, from James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, is the story of the greatest comeback in American political his…more
    Giveaway dates: Aug 13 - Sep 03, 2014
    15 copies available, 226 people requesting
    Countries available: US
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    (showing 1-30 of 887)
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    Mikey B.

    The FDR Memorial in Washington DC

    This is a vivid portrayal of Franklin Roosevelt when he became afflicted by poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) in 1921 and his life-long adjustment to it. It covers the period of onset until he ran for President in 1932.

    The author gives us an excellent perspective of the individuals surrounding Roosevelt, particularly of his secretary/advisor Louis Howe. Louis attached himself to Roosevelt in the 1910’s and never gave up on him. Both always believed that Rooseve...more
    As a disabled individual with a deep interest in politics and a avid fascination in the study of the American Presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt has occupied a very special place in my heart for many, many years. It fascinates me just to think that less than a century ago this country faced (what seemed like at the time) two insurmountable obstacles one directly following the other: the Great Depression and World War II, respectively.

    A favorite quote of mine is: "When this country was on its knee...more
    In depth and specific
    Well researched, well told

    FDR "defied" polio but wasn't "defined" by it ... yet it definitely shaped the President he became. Polio sharpened his character and remodelled his ethics. The argument presented isn't that FDR became President in spite of his polio, or that FDR became President because of his polio, but, as the title says so clearly, the argument is about the man (and President) he became.

    The author stays on task and presents a lot of interesting information and...more
    John Behle
    Riveting, uplifting, and amazing. What FDR accomplished, the man he became, the life he lived and, most of all, the millions of lives he touched vaults Tobin's book to an easy five star.

    Tobin writes with verve and you-are-there realism, that for me, turned this story into impulse reading. I tore through this book in four days. I planned extra time so I could have long stretches to better absorb how FDR defied this "fool disease of infantile paralysis" and achieve the mantle of a world leader.

    At the age of 39, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a rising star in Democratic politics. Handsome, charming, ambitious and liberal, he was able to navigate the tricky waters of the Democratic Party. Then on an outing he went swimming, came home feeling unwell and was never able to walk unassisted again. The story of how he worked to strengthen not only his body, but also the public's perception of what it means to be "crippled" is inspiring. In this period, being "crippled" meant being pitied and s...more

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dream to follow his cousin’s Theodore to the Presidency seemed to be exactly on course until he was stuck down with polio and appeared to be derailed forever. But as James Tobin recounts in his new book “The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency”, Roosevelt’s illness and his determination to regain his health and the use of his legs enabled him to make his way to the White House in a quiet unexpected way.

    Tobin begins his...more
    Carrie Kilgore
    Well-written, thoroughly researched story of FDR's fight with polio and its aftermath. As a polio survivor myself (I was two when I contracted the disease in the last big US epidemic in 1955) I found the descriptions of the illness right on the money, as well as FDR's physical, mental, and emotional struggles to regain some of what he'd lost. But this book should resonate with anyone, not only those who struggle with disability, but who struggle, period. FDR's courage and determination served hi...more
    Lisa McAllister
    This book did an excellent job focusing on the topic, which was how FDR's disability affected his life and his political life. The author really hit some key elements of the disabled experience, admirably for an able-bodied person. I especially appreciated his organization, and his citation of other works he read as he researched. This gives me more to read on the topic. It also made me think about my life in terms of my disability, which I don't often consider. While I try my best to just ignor...more
    A Smith
    In no way comparing a back injury to Polio but bits of the agony and trying to fight back and stand up is difficult.

    I've never read such detailed and awe inspiring deeper realty. My love of FDR on this reason alone is accentuated. Our nation was different but also the same.
    I won this book from Goodreads through their First Reads program.

    This is a nice, shortish biography on the roughly 10 years between the time Roosevelt contracted polio to his election as president. It goes into great detail on how FDR probably first encountered the disease and the painstaking road to recovery. It gives some great insight into the personal toughness FDR displayed.

    The author boldly claimed that FDR won the presidency not in spite of polio, but because of polio. I would have liked...more
    Marianne Meyers
    I found this book fascinating and thought the author did an excellent job keeping on task (there is so much to FDR and so many other places to go). What I found so interesting was how FDR decided to deal with his polio, what options he had, the minutiae of planning how many steps to take to the podium at his first public speech at Madison Square Garden, his choreography to get around everywhere he went. He did it with flair and zeal and with style, such a unique man of his time. I also found his...more
    Mark J Greene
    It's a good read for someone who is trying to come to terms with their own disability!
    Perhaps just as much attention—spoken if not written—has been given to FDR's disability as to any of his policies; it appears to be impossible to talk about one without citing the other's effect. However, in my lifetime the latter-day wisdom has been that his paralysis from an attack of polio at age 39 was a secret, or at least an open one: that he took great pains to hide the fact that he could not walk and even had film confiscated that would show him as the cripple (to use the word of the tim...more
    Was FDR born great or did he become one of our greatest Presidents because of the crippling results of polio? Tobin’s book focuses on Roosevelt’s life in the light of his affliction, of the efforts it took to recover, the extent to which he recovered, how he was changed by the experience, and ultimately how the nation & the world was changed by what his doctor called this “complex tapestry” of a man. The Man He Became is a fascinating and inspirational look at an extraordinary human being.

    Eddie Whitlock
    Overall, this is an excellent book.

    Tobin has done a fantastic job of going behind the scenes and finding documentation about Roosevelt's physical and mental struggles. The work is impressive.

    I have two very minor complaints:
    1) Mr. Tobin seems to have written this in answer to A SPLENDID DECEPTION, another book about FDR and his paralysis. I really see them as two different angles of the same issue. There was no need for Mr. Tobin to attack the other book.
    2) There was some unnecessary padding e...more
    This is a narrow slice of FDR's very complex life. It was inspiring to hear how hard he worked to overcome polio; how he was able to remain positive in the face of great adversity. It also gave an interesting and detailed history of polio. Somehow I wanted just a little bit more about his actual campaigns on his road to the White House. The book ended after he was elected Governor of New York and I felt there was more of the story to tell.
    It's hard to believe that yet another book on FDR has been published but I found this one fascinating and it adds to what there is to know and admire about him. This book focuses on the years 1921-1932, when FDR contracted polio and spent years fighting its effects and coming to terms with his disability. The author posits successfully the idea that dealing with polio brought FDR's best qualities to the surface and actually played a part in his victories in the NY gubernatorial election of 1928...more
    This book was interesting because it is history told from the perspective of FDR as a man who had so much to overcome. His paralysis shaped him as an individual and then, his presidency and then, in turn, our nations history. I loved reading about Eleanor and their family life also.
    Irving Koppel

    This is an excellent account of the rise of young FDR as well as the rise of Physical Therapy.Fortu-
    nately the development of this therapy was coincidental with the time Mr.Roosevelt needed it. Whatever
    one may think of FDR,anyone has to admire his courage and steadfastness in the pursuit of becoming
    the president of the United States.
    Great and inspiring book on how Franklin Roosevelt, despite having polio never gave up his dream to go into politics: first as governor of New York State and then president of the United States. Roosevelt found solace in a town in Georgia, named Warm Springs for which the springs were naturally heated and strengthen his legs.
    Fascinating biography! Was sad when it ended. FDR's determination and resolve was so inspiring. The thesis that polio made FDR a more compassionate and stronger individual was presented convincingly.
    Mary Kovarik
    As I read of Roosevelt's struggle with Polio, I related to him on a personal level. Roosevelt's troubles with Polio reminded me of my struggle recovering from a major stroke. I really liked this book.
    Frances Kulovitz
    This was a great book detailing how FDR dealt with polio and how it prepared him for all the trials he faced while president.
    Kirsten Cutler
    A fascinating account of Franklin D. Roosevelt's determination to overcome his disability from infantile polio suffered when he was an adult. His charm and resolve and caring for the downtrodden earned him the presidency in 1932. His effectiveness ensured him a legacy of greatness. Well worth reading.
    Bryan Craig
    This is a unique look at how polio affected FDR and his political career. Dr. Tobin is pretty careful not to get too far ahead of the primary sources, especially since FDR never wrote anything about how he really felt about it. He uses other polio victims' accounts to get a sense of what was going on, and also uses primary materials from the people around him.

    Dr. Tobin makes a convincing argument that polio made FDR into a stronger person and one with sympathy, a trait needed to go into the Gre...more
    very interesting...especially after having visited Roosevelts home and library in Hyde Park
    Interesting approach to FDR's polio: Instead of becoming president in spite of his disability, he became president because of it. Best description of how the polio virus infects it's host I've ever read. Note: recent research argues that FDR never had polio, but suffered from Guillian-Barre syndrome. (Not in the book, but lots on the web.)
    Tobin's book is very detailed about the polio virus that struck FDR, how it could have came about and why, as well as the delay in treatment that could have mitigated the damage. He dispels the myth that the pubic didn't know or that the media didn't report the affliction.

    I think the world was more civil in regards to people's personal lives at the time. Revelations of every tiny sordid detail of the affects of the polio virus on him emotionally and physically were not necessarily reported in mi...more
    Terry Gallagher
    This is a remarkable book: readable, accessible, but with truly groundbreaking research into the character of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Tobin has uncovered new information about the onset of Roosevelt's polio, but more important, has examined how polio turned Roosevelt into The Man He Became.

    "The conventional wisdom is that FDR became president in spite of his polio," Tobin writes. "I think the evidence suggests an alternative truth--that he became president because of polio."

    James Tobin did a nice job here. The perspective was on FDR's illness and paralysis. The background on FDR and his family is surprising. I enjoyed the book.
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