Sara's Reviews > FDR

FDR by Jean Edward Smith
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's review
Dec 03, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, memoir-biography, nonfiction
Recommended for: serious FDR fans
Read in December, 2007

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 varies.

The focus on FDR as the primary topic of the book is expected, but it was strange to have one illuminating Eleanor chapter and then hear so little of her activities afterward. FDR's influential wife popped up again here and there providing Smith with colorful excerpts from her letters, but her occupations are scarcely mentioned, leaving the reader to guess where she might have been when FDR's daughter or secretaries hosted White House state dinners.

I very much enjoyed the cast of FDR's devoted followers, aides and assistants who adored and served the president loyally from the New York state assembly to the presidency. His charisma and positive outlook come through admirably and the author has added Winston Churchill's resounding endorsements of him throughout the latter half of the book.

In tracing FDR's upper-crust heritage to his final days, Smith has done a good job of exploring how FDR's government positions and experiences shaped his social agenda and beliefs. From descriptions of his battle with paralysis to writing his Fireside Chats to his constant informality (including walking in on Churchill fresh out of the bath), this book provides a very interesting and intimate look at one of America's great leaders.
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