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Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933 (Eleanor Roosevelt #1)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  2,880 ratings  ·  108 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, 640 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

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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
Barbara
Eleanor Roosevelt was a very interesting woman, and volume 1 of her biography is fairly well-written and gives loads of details about her life, perhaps too much. The length was very daunting, and I am a quick, determined reader. Some of the information in this book could have been deleted and still represented her life well. There were also times where the same information was repeated in a slightly different way in more than one chapter. Many times I personally did not agree with Eleanor Roosev ...more
Megan
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.



Amanda
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.


Shay Caroline
After seeing the PBS series about the Roosevelts, I wanted to find a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt that would tell me about the human being more than the public figure, and this was the book I was looking for. However, though it is well written, extremely well researched, and informative, I have to say it was very hard to get through, and I had to set it aside for a while when I was half way done; I just didn't want to know THAT much about anybody, and Blanche Cook never met a detail she didn't ...more
Krenzel
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
Amanda
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
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
Shawna
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
Sarah Cler
Meticulously researched and detailed, a pretty riveting account of the first 46 years of Eleanor Roosevelt's life. Unlike with most biographies (in which I skim over the boring early years stuff), I was most fascinated/horrified by Eleanor's childhood. Cook does an amazing job of balancing fact and emotion, giving the reader a detailed account of events while folding in the essence of the human being behind the name. A detailed account of Eleanor's early years with Franklin was reassuring (they ...more
Carol
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.
Lindsay
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.
Janie
This is basically a huge encyclopedia (book number 1 of 2). I tried to read it cover to cover and didn't get very far before I fell asleep. I am a huge fan of this influential woman and a fan of biographies, but this is excruciating detail about every moment of her life told in a very dry and unwitty manner. Find another book!
Meghan
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.
Chazzi
I picked up this volume and the second one as they looked interesting and I liked the idea of photos to give a little visual to such historic times. What I found was interesting but also a huge dose of historical information. A bit more than I was looking for, hence the long time to read the book.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a complicated woman and a bit of a rebel. Born and raised in Victorian times (1884) with Victorian morals she found that she had to change with the turning of the century (1900). H
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Linda
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. With my appetite whetted by "The Roosevelts" on PBS, I read this book in a couple of weeks. I found it extraordinarily well researched, thorough, and fascinating. I'm looking forward to starting Vol. 2.
Lindsey
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.
Emily
May 27, 2013 Emily marked it as just-cannot-finish  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive detail is exhausting.
Steve
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
Barbara
This seems like a good time to learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt, following the airing of the new Ken Burns Roosevelt miniseries and our trip out east, stopping at Hyde Park and Val-Kill. Having visited these sites of importance to the Roosevelts, it is easier to visualize some of the history. Eleanor is a complicated figure and there is much to admire. The biography covers a lot of ground, gives much detail. There is no analysis of whether Eleanor's progressive stance and accomplishments is a ...more
Roger
Older biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. This is volume #1 and goes up to 1933. Looks at lot of her personal relationships. Details her awaking from being a political wife to an activist in the issues that she found important. Interesting background and insights to Mrs. Roosevelt and her life. Will seek out volume #2.
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
Susan Wittig Albert
Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand ER's life and times. The very best and most complete biography (vol. 1 of 2, soon to be 3).
Trent
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.
Elisabeth
Ms. Cook has written a solid and interesting introduction to the first five decades of Eleanor Roosevelt's life. She made me understand the profound influence that Mrs. Roosevelt had on politics in general and women's issues in particular in the 20th century, and I came away inspired and more than a little in awe. I felt that Ms. Cook did overemphasize certain points, such as what may or may not have been going on in Mrs. Roosevelt's female friendships, but she didn't allow her exploration of th ...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
Sondra Perry
I find her fascinating.
Therese Wiese
Loved it. Can't wait for volume 2.
Nancy
I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this woman. I knew little about her prior to this, except by reputation as a passionate, political powerhouse of a woman. I was not aware of the difficulties she needed to overcome to become who she became, and it is inspirational. I found the book thorough and detailed, but not slow, as other reviews have described. I did find Cook's writing/analysis to be biased at times, and oddly familiar at others. That said, I look forward to volume II.
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Blanche Wiesen Cook (born April 20, 1941 in New York City), Distinguished Professor of history at John Jay College in the City University of New York, is the author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One 1884–1933, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winning biography of Eleanor Roosevelt....Ms.Cook, who is openly gay, is also the author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2 , The Defining Years, 1933–1938, and The ...more
More about Blanche Wiesen Cook...

Other Books in the Series

Eleanor Roosevelt (2 books)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: Vol 2, The Defining Years, 1933-38
Eleanor Roosevelt: Vol 2, The Defining Years, 1933-38 Eleanor Roosevelt The Declassified Eisenhower Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution Past Imperfect: Alternative Essays in American History

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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.” 5 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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