Eleanor Roosevelt:  Volume 1, 1884-1933
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Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 1, 1884-1933

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  2,143 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Eleanor Roosevelt was born into the privileges and prejudices of American aristocracy and into a family ravaged by alcoholism. She overcame debilitating roots: in her public life, fighting against racism and injustice and advancing the rights of women; and in her private life, forming lasting intimate friendships with some of the great men and women of her times.
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Paperback, 608 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1900)
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Laurie Carlson
Excellent book all about Eleanor Roosevelt. Everything you ever wanted to know about her and her family, and of course, all about Franklin's family as well. This book is so detailed, it is Book 1 of 2. I always wondered if they were related how and why they would marry. It is all explained in the book that there were two separate families of Roosevelts, each not related to the other. This book is very detailed in all circumstances. You learn all about Eleanor, from her childhood to every member...more
Susanne Clower
I'm glad I'm reading this so soon after finishing a biography of FDR. Both authors act as their subjects' champion. Thus the FDR bio depicts ER as mostly unsupportive and self-absorbed (after the Lucy Mercer incident), while the ER bio expresses outrage at FDR's casual negligence and his dismissal of his wife's accomplishments. At the same time both books acknowledge the firm partnership that the marriage became. For myself, both FDR's and ER's life is inspiring. I'm particularly glad to be read...more
Such an incredible book. Such depth and truth to this amazing woman who overcame so much. Cook has way of pulling you into Eleanor's life and making you experience everything with her. She gives you enough detail to be involved, but doesn't weight you down in pointless correspondence or stories. A great biography for anyone wanting an honest account of Eleanor's pre-White House years.

For many Americans, Eleanor Roosevelt is more a myth than an actual person. In the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. there is a whole floor devoted to American presidents, but just a small wing devoted to our First Ladies, or more specifically their inaugural gowns. While visiting the museum, I picked up a poster of Eleanor Roosevelt, with a nice quote that reads something like, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." Other than my poster, the only thing I knew abo...more
This is an excellent portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt- it includes her quirks and her mistakes and her flaws, but still shows her as an amazing role model and pioneer of feminism. The work she did was amazing, especially considering the environment of the 1920's and 30's and society's attitude toward women in politics. I can't help but wonder what her impact would be if she were born today and had more opportunities for education and participation. But her perseverence despite the hardships she fac...more
Top Eight Things I Learned about Eleanor Roosevelt:

1)Incredibly traumatic childhood

2)Ran her own school while FDR was governor of New York

3)Had a furniture making factory

4)Big time woman's rights advocate

5)Teddy Roosevelt's niece (he gave her away at her wedding)

6)Was an anti-semite before WW2.

7)He cheated, she offered a divorce, he declined, married in name only since that day.

8)The two loves of her adult life were Earl Miller and Lorena Hickok.

The information for this book, the first in a series, comes from letters and documents recently declassified. The insight afforded by these very private documents really sheds light on her early life and her relationships with family and friends. It also helps to see the incredibly complicated family life she led.

I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series.
I can't really explain it but ever since I was in grade school and read a book on Eleanor I've had this strange fondness for her. Maybe we were friends in a past life. At any rate I speed through both of Ms. Cook's books. I will admit to liking the first one more than the second volume.
The combination of Eleanor Roosevelt's remarkable life and Blanche Wiesen Cook's attention to detail make this a stunning - and at times, daunting-to-read - biography.
May 27, 2013 Emily marked it as just-cannot-finish  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive detail is exhausting.
I can't wait to read the next volume of Cook's biography. Eleanor Roosevelt was an incredible person, and we should read her writing and read about her as much or more than other 20th century American greats, such as her husband FDR and her uncle Teddy Roosevelt. Cook tells a compelling story of Eleanor's difficult childhood and adolescence, her mentors, her discoveries, her friends, her actions. I never knew about the wonderful school she co-founded (Toddhunter) and taught at for years, for exa...more
Kay Baird
The story of a woman who emerged from her childhood training as a dutiful, retiring Victorian woman to become an independent person, passionately involved in publicly working for human rights. Although she consistently belittled herself, she was in fact one of the most powerful woman of her world. Furthermore, although the record has been purposefully masked, altered and destroyed, traces remain, which Cook has unearthed, of love relationships with other women, and with a much younger man. Cook...more
A well-written portrait of a fascinating woman.
If this review makes you want to buy the book, please do so at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore that supports your local community.
Tracy Fitzpatrick
ER is an inspiration!!! I feel like I should write a review to explain my 2 star rating. First I want to say that I can really appreciate all of the effort the author put into this. Endless hours must have been spent researching and capturing the fine details displayed in the book. However, it took me 3 plus years to get through the book. Each chapter would start by capturing my interest but I would lose interest by the end off each and have to force myself to continue to the next. I'm not sure...more
An interesting book about an admirable woman who lived in strange, dysfunctional world. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, Eleanor never knew the love of her mother, and her father was an alcoholic whose family kept him away from his children for their own safety. Still, she idolized her father. She married into Franklin's family and inherited a domineering mother-in-law who never allowed her to be in charge of her own household or children. She endured Franklin's infidelity and stayed to care...more
Laura Jean
While it was fascinating to get a peak into the details of Eleanor's life--most especially that she did not become the independent woman we remember until her mid to late 30s--I think the biographer took too many liberties with her speculations.

Where the record is missing, I believe biographers should show the boundaries of the gaps rather than attempt to fill in the details. Here, Ms. Cook is less detective than imaginative historian. Volume 2 is at the ready, but I plan on taking a break befo...more
" Education only ends with death," she said repeatedly".

"ER wished especially that "we could give to all young people" a "real joy in books. If they find some kind of reading in which they can lose themselves, it will help them through many difficult times in their future lives."

Philanthropist, educator, mother, feminist, writer, wife, lover..this book sheds light on the multi-faceted Eleanor Roosevelt. A great read!
I really enjoyed this book. It's from a personal perspective, emotional, and yet still discusses ER's effects on the world, politics, and social attitudes. She helped create a better social "norm", including the many policies and helps we have today. Her visions for what our society needed to be were so advanced, we have yet to reach and realize her ideals. She was a strong woman who followed her heart.
This biography is in 2 volumes and the history it contains is voluminous! I appreciate the author's expertise, research and writing of this most extraordinary woman. From the perspective of history, I recognized that our political and economic concerns for our community, country and world are the same now as they were a century ago. The solutions still lie in the hands of a populace who demand change.
If you can get through the ancestry and heritage and make it to page 100, the rest of the book is a breeze. Infact, for history / biography it is an easy read. So interesting I had trouble putting it down. But, then, I find Eleanor Roosevelt amazing. My only request: that ancestry family trees had been added. I found the common names very confusing. A visual family tree would have been helpful.
I love Eleanor Roosevelt. I am inspired by her courage, her energy, her strength, her compassion. These books are a little hard to get through though, because Blanche Wiesen Cook is so interested in every detail about everyone that Eleanor Roosevelt ever looked at in her entire life, that it is hard to get be drawn in. I finally started just skimming through parts.
I bought this book because I was in a leadership program and we were to read a book on a leader -- I remembered that my mom had read a book about Eleanor when I was young and she used to go do talks pretending she was her. Not sure if this is the same book or not - as this one was long and factual. I mostly skimmed it but will keep to read again if and when I retire
Joyce Becker
Both Volumes I & II are interesting in-depth information about this very fascinating and complex person. It describes her childhood, her marriage, her friends, and the many things that she accomplished. She was involved in more than any other first lady and opened doors in her own way. She continued her work after her husband's death both politically and personally.
Jerry Bentley
As a biography, it was a long read and sometimes hard to stay tuned in. Still, Eleanor was an amazing woman ahead of her time and it was very cool to see just how extraordinary she was. Most encouraging was the candid discussion of her own doubts about herself - makes you feel like the little train that could.
Exhaustively researched and engagingly written; more of a "life and times" of ER than pure biography, which I think really adds to the book. Cook is overly forgiving of the ER's casual racism as a young woman, but that's my only complaint. I really look forward to reading volume 2!
Very thorough research. I gave it 2 stars not because the quality of the work was poor; but rather because I didn't care for the author's style, and therefore didn't enjoy reading it. Much preferred No Ordinary Time, and will have to keep hunting for another Eleanor biography.
I've really enjoyed this biography. Wiesen Cook does a good job balancing the personal and public elements of Roosevelt's life and seems particularly careful not to oversimplify her motives or take stories at face value. The one thing that annoys me is the use of initials.
This was my first biography. I found it really difficult to read this, I found myself avoiding it. This is by no means a reflection on the book. The writing is excellent and the author has clearly done her homework. I love Eleanor, I just don't enjoy reading biographies.
Elsa Binder
I normally do not read biographies, but had to for a class in college. I have to say Eleanor Roosevelt is a fascinating character both personally and politically. This book had me hooked in the way it was written and the content of the person she was writing about.
I was surprised at how much I was able to learn about the Roosevelt administration and policies. Eleanor was so involved in it all and this book focused in detail on her involvement in shaping the new deal policies - but also on ER's own socail policy interests.
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“And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 3 likes
“And even when success comes, as I am sure it will, bear in mind that there are more quiet and enviable joys than to be among the most sought after women at a ball...” 0 likes
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