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4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  5,693 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
Slightly curled corners. Red dot on bottom page ends. Black mark inside front cover. No markings. Scuffed edges.
Paperback, 858 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mark I would definitely recommend it over Brands's FDR biography. Smith is an engaging writer who offers a lot of insight into Roosevelt.
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Dec 01, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) has been called one of the three most important US presidents of all time, by historians and political figures alike. Known best for his New Deal to help America and acting as one of the three Allies political leaders during the Second World War, Roosevelt's legacy is thoroughly documented in the history books. But there is more to this man, as Jean Edward Smith argues in this lengthy biography. The leader behind these great acts helped shape America in ways known to ...more
May 21, 2008 Krenzel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
"FDR," by Jean Edward Smith (also author of the highly acclaimed biography "Grant"), adds to the long list of biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of our greatest presidents. At the outset, Smith makes clear his admiration for FDR – the book is dedicated to his parents, "proud Mississippians devoted to Franklin Roosevelt," and the epigraph states, "He lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees." In the preface to his book, Smith mentions the biggest riddle for ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography for the general reader. There have been many books on Roosevelt recently, several about his relationship with Churchill specifically, but not a complete biography. Smith sees Roosevelt as, with Washington and Lincoln, in the top echelon of influential American presidents and her book is intended to show why. But he is also sensitive to his faults and doesn’t hesitate to condemn a number of his actions and attitudes, not the least of which was his attempt to "pack" the Supreme ...more
Bryan Craig
Mar 21, 2009 Bryan Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say Jean Edward Smith has become one of my favorites. He did such a great job on Grant, so I read this one. He synthesizes so much information in such a great way. It is the best one-volume biography I have found on FDR. I would really rate this 4.5. If there is a flaw it is that he moved through WWII pretty fast, but you can find other books related to FDR and the war. It is a wonderful book.
Apr 15, 2017 Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very strong read. I did find the first third to be a bit slow. FDR and his ilk had a very privileged upbringing, and some of that was a bit tedious. I do think contracting Polio had a overwhelming effect on his perspective - perhaps even a humbling impact. Once he becomes President, it really picks up. Trump says he is getting so much done in his first 100 days (what a fantasy), but hardly anyone can hold a candle to FDR's early days. He barnstormed DC with legistration.

May 07, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“FDR” is Jean Edward Smith’s 2007 biography of the thirty-second U.S. president and is the 2008 recipient of the Francis Parkman Prize. Smith taught political science at the University of Toronto for 35 years and at Marshall University for 12 years. His next biography “Bush” will be released July 2016.

“FDR” is among the most widely read and beloved of biographies and for good reason. It is meticulously researched, exceedingly well-footnoted, admiring but b
Jason Bland
Jan 23, 2011 Jason Bland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a delicious meal made up of turn of the century politics and a side order of regret on how modern political discourse (and positions) have reverted. The beginning of the book which covers FDR's childhood and early political career, goes into Wilson's administration which offers an insight to a political party that no longer exists. That being one made up of religious conservatives with socially conscious progressive ideals in foreign relations, taxation, and the role to be played by ...more
Nov 16, 2014 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easy to read , accessible, fast-paced (as biographies go) and extremely interesting/informative. This book has been called the best one-volume bio of FDR and, even though this is the only bio of FDR that I've read, I can see how this could be true. Without hesitation, I would recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in history, US presidents, WW II, and of course, FDR himself.

There are, however, a couple of things that prevent me from awarding this biography a full 5-Star rati
Feb 27, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If you're a political buff in America, then reading a biography of FDR for the first timeis a bit like watching Casablanca for the first time--maybe you don't know the story entirely, but you could quote all the memorable lines (even the one that isn't even in the movie). And given the breadth and depth of FDR's influence on America, any single volume, no matter how long, is going to struggle to give any particular accomplishment more than cursory attention.

So how does Jean Edward Smith fare, wi
Shawn Thrasher
Apr 15, 2015 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best pieces of nonfiction I've read in many months. Smith's writing style is superb; this isn't hagiography or hatchet-jobbery either. You can't write about a revered historical figure like Franklin Roosevelt without some sense of laud, but Smith maintains a mostly even keel. FDR has warts on show here. What I thought was particularly interesting was the Smith's premise that four women - Franklin's mother Sara, his wife Eleanor, his secretary Missy LeHand, and his one time mis ...more
Jul 04, 2008 Bap rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I can't believe that I have never read a biography of FDR and I was amazed at how much I learned. FDR was a contradiction. A patrician born to old money, established wealth. To get some idea, shortly after he was marriedm, his mother Sara gave the newly weds a beach front cottage at Campabello Island, a cottage with 34 rooms. he was an unlikely candidate to step in to save this country from revolution. The depression was so unlike anything my generation has experienced. Not only malnutrition, un ...more
Nov 10, 2011 Marijan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extensive, objective and interesting biography of one of the greatest presidents USA ever had. very informative.
Aug 24, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
Jean Edward Smith acknowledges that there is no lack of biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt or histories of the time period in which he lived, but he wanted to bring something new to current readers who have not realized the importance of this president who led the nation in times of the worst economic catastrophe and most momentous war in history. Smith attributes this hazy memory of FDR not only to the passage of time since the Roosevelt era, but to the efforts of conservative leaders fro ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a political genius and arguably the best President of the United States in the 20th century. [return][return]FDR came from a family that could trace its beginnings in the New World back to the early Dutch settlers of New York, making him a member of the "Knickerbocker aristocracy". However, an upbringing surrounded by wealth and privilege did not prevent him, through a combination of circumstances, personal adversity and a compassionate nature, from identifying with ...more
Regina Lindsey
FDR by Jean Edward Smith
5 Stars and a heart

FDR is almost deified by those on the left and attacked vociferously by those on the right. As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It is difficult for an author to write a truly objective biography on a subject. Most authors either detest or adore their subjects, and that bias readily shows. After all, there almost certainly has to be strong feelings one way or another in order to commit the kind of time necessary to accomplish
Many people might think that a biography is a biography; they all contain facts about someone’s life. They might think that the only thing important is the quantity and credibility of the facts contained in the biography. To a point, yes, the facts that back up a biography are important. But there are several other factors that can make even a well researched book a not so good one; writing style, the author’s bias (while it is pretty much inevitable for a biography to have a bias, there is a po ...more
Not too long ago I read the FDR Biography Franklin D. Roosevelt A Rendezvous with Destiny by Frank FreidelFranklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny by Frank Freidel and was rather disappointed by it. After consulting with some friends on Goodreads, I bought this biography and, I have to say, it was money well spent. Mr. Smith has written a fabulous one-volume biography of FDR that truly brings the man to life. Despite it being roughly 630-plus pages, Mr. Smith's narrative flows freely and rapidly with few wasted words. It is also surprisingly detaile ...more
Oct 26, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second biography I have read by Jean Edward Smith. Both this work and his book on Eisenhower are outstanding. More than any other author I have read, he covers his subject in a very evenhanded manner. He points out the good and the bad character traits and actions of his subject and does not fall prey to "hero-worship" as many biographers have a tendency to do. When Roosevelt missteps, Smith does not hold back judgement. For instance, Smith spends quite a bit of time criticizing FDR' ...more
Jason Aldous
Jul 06, 2015 Jason Aldous rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never a hero among conservatives and constitutionalists, FDR nonetheless contributed mightily to the power and prestige of America in the world. Smith's book makes this case in spades!

Smith is the same author as for the Eisenhower book I've also read. After reading both books, I honestly found Ike's story to be an even more compelling one than FDR's. The Second World War provided Eisenhower with a unique opportunity in military history, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, making hi
Paula Ferreira Pinto
Um extraordinário livro sobre um homem extraordinário, cheio de espírito humano, de uma profunda empatia para com o seu semelhante, de uma resiliência fora do comum e de uma compaixão solidária sem paralelo, tudo polvilhado com características menos abonatórias e falhas de actuação que de modo nenhum retiram brilho ao quadro maravilhosamente pintado por Jean Edward Smith sobre a vida de um ser humano fascinante e de um período da história do mundo apaixonante.
Jeremy Perron
Nov 25, 2011 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the most important person of the twentieth century, he helped the United States shake off bonds of the nineteenth century and prepared the nation to accept it's new role as a global superpower. When he came to power of March 4, 1933 after the stunning November 1932 election, the nation was at its weakest point since the dark days of the Civil War. The nation had been crippled by the devastation of the 1929 crash, and a man, who was himself disabled, was going to show th ...more
I'm such a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt that for me FDR has always been 'the other Roosevelt' - although I'm very aware for most people the Roosevelts are very much reversed and Teddy is the other lesser Roosevelt. It's no coincidence, after all, that FDR is generally ranked in the top five of all America's presidents.

American often seems quite fortunate in its Presidents; when the situation is really desperate the right man seems to present himself. They were fortunate indeed with Washington duri
Sep 10, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
It took me nine months to listen to this four-part, 24+-hour unabridged audio biography of the great president, because my life is now structured so I do less driving and also less time at the gym, which were the two main venues to consume audio books.

But still, this is a wonderful book, and I could take weeks off and return to it without any loss of comprehension, because by now the story of Franklin Roosevelt is more familiar than more recent, if not more admirable, people in the same business
Scott Cox
“FDR” by Jean Edward Smith ?????

“FDR” is the second Jean Edward Smith biography I have read. The first, “Grant,” was equally compelling. Of course it helps that Smith handled two incredible personalities and national leaders such as Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both biographies warrant 5 stars for being fair in their analysis, thorough, and readable . . . in fact, quite readable! As 32nd President of the United States, FDR had two virtually distinct administrations. During his
Aaron Million
Feb 10, 2013 Aaron Million rated it really liked it
This is a well-balanced, thoroughly researched biography of FDR. The notes section is excellent - there is so much more information contained in both the footnotes and the end notes that I followed along with the end notes as I finished each corresponding chapter. Smith does an admirable job of balancing the strengths and weaknesses, flaws and virtues, that made FDR such a complex person. Smith details certain instances of FDR's ruthlessness (1938 congressional elections, for example), while als ...more
Eva Thieme
Nov 07, 2016 Eva Thieme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me an epic amount of time to read this epic biography – not because it was boring, but because it contained so much information. There were hundreds of footnotes for every chapter, and because they often contained additional information beyond the source, I felt compelled to keep a bookmark in the back and read all that was there, slowing down my progress considerably.
This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy FDR, quite the contrary. It’s just not a book you read between the covers when falling
TR Peterson
Feb 02, 2012 TR Peterson rated it it was amazing
Recommended to TR by: James
Jean Edward Smith's biography of FDR is one of the most complete and compelling reads on the life of one of the greatest presidents of the United States. Largely chronological, Smith's biography keeps the different aspects of FDR's life in perspective. This is no easy task given that the time period in which FDR was in power was the most tumultuous in living memory. Where some biographies of FDR get understandably pulled in the direction of any number of the supporting characters, many of whom c ...more
This was a remarkably readable account of the 20th century’s greatest president. Lord knows FDR wasn’t perfect, and Smith doesn’t shy away from discussing those points, which include FDR’s court packing plan, the effort to squeeze out conservatives in elections, backing away from government assistance in the midst of recovery, and most importantly signing off on Japanese internment after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Stunning mistakes indeed. But FDR’s successes were far grander. It’s easy to recite ...more
Gary Schroeder
Walking through FDR'S estate in Hyde Park, New York, I was intrigued by the exhibits that I saw there, particularly a display of letters written by desperate Americans petitioning the White House for support in light of extreme hardship. These letters were posted in a room dedicated to explaining the origins of the social security program. I needed to know more. I went in search of a well-rated FDR biography and this is the one I chose.

Jean Edward Smith's biography covers every period of Rooseve
Dec 03, 2007 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious FDR fans
I am glad I made the time for this nearly 33-hour, 26-disc audiobook, but listeners who don't have a round trip commute of 150 miles may not feel the same way.

First of all, I now know much more about Franklin Delano Roosevelt than I did when I chose it. However, FDR-related events and people received strangely lopsided and minimal treatment. The author, Jean Edward Smith, went into unnecessarily great detail about how WWI began, but the level of detail on events for which FDR was president varie
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Currently he is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto after having served as professor of political economy there for thirty-five years. Smith also currently serves as professor of history and government at Ashland University.

A graduate of McKinley High School in Washington, D.C., Smith received an A.B. from Prin
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“He lifted himself from a wheelchair to lift the nation from its knees.” 13 likes
“Not to be overlooked are the four women who played crucial roles in FDR’s life: his mother, Sara; Lucy Mercer, the woman he loved; Missy LeHand, the woman who loved him;” 0 likes
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