The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

by
4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  29 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
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 693)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jason
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
Julie
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.

To...more
Larraine
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
Matt
GOODREADS FIRST READS REVIEW

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.
Brian
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!
Eve
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
Carole
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.

Colleen
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.
Patricia
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
Karen
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.
Steve
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.
Jacqueline
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
Julie
very interesting...especially after having visited Roosevelts home and library in Hyde Park
Gayle
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.)
Don
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."

M. Jenkins
A deeply researched book that answers many questions anyone would have about how the heck a man could overcome such setbacks and then rise to the highest office and stay there. Also, good descriptions of how the press used to work back then.
Sharril
I was a little disappointed in this book. There was a lot of detail about polio in general that I could have done without. So I skipped some parts.But then again, every once in a while there was some comment that brought insight to FDR's personality that made the read worth it. I gave it three stars.
Brent
Nov 25, 2013 Brent rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all readers
Recommended to Brent by: Michael C. Carlos Museum Bookshop
Shelves: biography, history, health
I loved reading this book.
Highly recommended.
Author interview on Fresh Air, here...
http://www.npr.org/2013/11/25/2471555...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dallas 1963
  • Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912
  • Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation
  • Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House
  • Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image
  • 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election amid the Storm
  • American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
  • Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power
  • Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency
  • Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI
  • Wooden: A Coach's Life
  • A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination
  • Kennedy and Reagan: Why Their Legacies Endure
  • The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America's Most Famous Residence
  • Where Were You? America Remembers the JFK Assassination
  • Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America
  • The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles & Their Secret World War
  • An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright Great Projects: The Epic Story of the Building of America, from the Taming of the Mississippi to the Invention of the Internet Harry Johnson 1923 1977

Share This Book