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Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962

(Eleanor Roosevelt)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The magisterial concluding volume in the definitive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt

Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The long-awaited third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR’s death, the foundi
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Viking
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Caroline That was my biggest disappointment. Vol 3 effectively also covers just five years, well, six, from 1939-1945. The remaining 17 years of ER's life are …moreThat was my biggest disappointment. Vol 3 effectively also covers just five years, well, six, from 1939-1945. The remaining 17 years of ER's life are covered in just one epilogue chapter. Very disappointing!(less)

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Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars because only 20 pages at the end of the book are devoted to her life after FDR passed away, which is when she did a lot of really great/amazing work.

See me talk about it briefly in my January wrap up:
"This book is dedicated to all those activists and agitators who resist tyranny, challenge authority, fight for peace, freedom, and Human Rights---as we continue our journey for One World: no borders, no boundaries, no walls." Blanche Wiesen Cook

Inspired by the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Mikey B.
As a first-off this biography devotes only 28 pages (out of a total of 570) to the time after Franklin Roosevelt’s death in April, 1945. Eleanor died in 1962. So the sub-title of this book “1939 – 1962” is definitely a misnomer.

I can only speculate as to why. The first volume (1884 – 1933) was published in 1992, the second volume (1933 – 1938) was published in 1999, and this third and last volume in 2016. Seventeen years between the second and third volumes seems a lot – and disappointing since
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Summary: The third and final volume in this biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, covering her advocacy, friendships, and relationship with Franklin during the war years, and briefly, her accomplishments after his death.

I had often heard that Eleanor Roosevelt did as much to redefine the role of First Lady as her husband did the Presidency, perhaps more. This work, volume three of a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt (who the author usually refers to as "ER") helped me understand that she did far more tha
This final volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook's three-part biography of Eleanor Roosevelt disappointed me. Not so much for the writing or research or approach, all of which are just as good in this book as the previous two, but purely for reasons of content.

For all intents and purposes, Cook finishes up with FDR's death in 1945 - the remaining 17 years of Eleanor's life are dealt with in a single relatively short epilogue chapter. Yet arguably some of Eleanor's most important work was done in these y
Jonna Higgins-Freese
The first two volumes of this biography were absolutely masterful. This one was disappointing in its incompleteness. It seemed clear to me that Cook was tiring of her subject, or that she had never been, or became less, interested in the war and UN years than she was in ER's childhood, marriage, FDR's infidelity w/ Lucy Mercer, the way that caused ER to reinvent herself, and the ER/FDR partnership through the New Deal era. Or perhaps she found that Doris Kearns Goodwin's _No Ordinary Time_ and _ ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent look at Eleanor Roosevelt's life during the war and after. Eleanor Roosevelt is truly an inspiration and led an amazing life; she overcame many obstacles and persevered. I learned very little about her in school-the only thing I remember is a remembrance assembly when she died-so, I set myself the goal of reading this three volume biography earlier this year.
Not only did I learn about ER's life, I learned 20th century history as well. What saddens me is how little our coun
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I read the first two books while I lived in California, so this third one brought back a lot of different memories for me. Well done, though the amount of writing devoted to ER's life post FDR's death is quite short and felt rushed. Still, a solid read and really informative. ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. This book is dripping with primary documents and words straight from ER. Similar to, "You Learn by Living," I wanted to underline all of this book.
I was particularly struck how some of the core themes ER was passionate about during this point of her life are still issues facing our world today: a refugee crisis and racial tension. As I read this book, I grew a bit sad that here we are, almost a century later with the same problems: Hate crimes, people being ripped away from their homes in
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well I did it. It took me five and half months (of this book) and like 18 months (of the whole series) but I finished the last volume of Blanche Wisen Cook’s superb Eleanor Roosevelt Trilogy. This is not just the definitive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, I’d say it’s the definitive biography of any 20th century figure. This is thoroughly researched, engaging to read, funny at times, and fully of enough gossip to keep me interested. It reinvigorated me to work for change. It reminded me how once ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really loved the first volume of this but I couldn't get through the second and this one was better but I felt like it was a 'duty' to get through. The issue being that all the personal insight that her first volume had just wasn't here...instead what you get is a lot of discussion of the refugee crisis and race relations, of course valid, but it's like this wasn't a biography but more of Eleanor and those issues (which is a whole other book). Also, this isn't her life from 1939-1962--that's j ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The third book of a trilogy, this book takes us through World War II, FDR’s death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s death in 1962. It follows the war and evolution of her marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues — economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue — when they were sidelined by FDR while he ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having read Volumes 1 and 2 of Blanche Wiesen Cook's masterful biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, I was beginning to worry that she would never finish Volume 3. Fortunately, she did. No one knows Eleanor Roosevelt as well as Cook, which she proves in all three volumes. Unfortunately, she doesn't take as much time with the World War II years and post-war period as she did with Eleanor's life until 1939. I couldn't help but wonder if Cook just wanted to be finished with the project that has consumed ...more
Fran Johnson
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
Carefully researched, this a is a fascinating book about one of the greatest American women who just happened to be a presidents' wife who lived during a very eventful time. ER did so much to make this a better world although much of it she never received credit for doing. The book is remarkably modern as the US is going through much of the hatred towards refugees and immigrants right now as it was during the WWII years. Both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill don't look very good ...more
Women's National Book Association of New Orleans
The Women's National Book Association sent this book to the White House today (March 6) in honor of Women's History Month:

From the Women's National Book Association's press release:

In Volume 3, President Roosevelt and the first lady confront a new political reality: a Congress much less favorable to the New Deal and other progressive ideas. In addition, the threat of war in Europe and Asia led to an increase in isolationism and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
An exceptional in depth look at Eleanor Roosevelt during the WWII era and until her death. Such an personal and up close look at who she was and her visionary outlook. I learned so much from this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves history or who would like to learn more about how our country was developed. This book was full of so many insights for me. The author has done a wonderful job in putting all this information in a very enjoyable format. I won this book in a GoodReads Give ...more
Bethany Gosewehr
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Well written but only 30 pages devoted to 1945-1962. She did so much after FDR died and it felt like she just glossed over it. The book officially ends with her leaving the White House after the funeral and the epilogue is all there is about the last 17 years of her life. Very disappointing.
John Bohnert
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
ER was a very remarkable woman. I admire her very much.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Eleanor Roosevelt has been my heroine for most of my life - as soon as I was able to read about her. Her commitment to humanity is a major force throughout her life and we could use her voice in our current times. A few quotes:
"If we do not see that equal opportunity, equal justice and equal treatment are granted to every citizen, the very basis on which this country can hope to survive with liberty and justice for all will be wiped away."
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In sm
I am deeply disappointed with this 3rd volume, for which I’ve waited more than 10 years. I learned so much from the first two volumes and appreciated the narrative readability of Wiesen Cook’s writing style. My disappointment is at least partially related to the fact that I have much more knowledge about WWII and the Roosevelt’s than I did when I read the first two volumes; consequently I did not learn much of anything that was new to me in this third volume. But more importantly, I had really b ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not sure whether to give this volume 3 or 4 stars. In truth, I really didn't love it, and I usually save 4 stars for things I really love. But I think it rates better than 3 stars.

Like many reviewers here, I found that this volume rushed through the last 20 years of ER's life. The volume ostensibly covers from 1939 to her death in 1962, but more than half the book is devoted to just 1939 and 1940. The war and her life after FDR are jammed into the last half of the book. So it seemed uneven t
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
The final book of the trilogy takes Eleanor Roosevelt through World War II to her death. Her constant work on behalf of refugees is inspiring--especially considering it was in spite of her husband stonewalling her on the issue. These were difficult times for Eleanor as her husband tried to sideline her. This book really demonstrates the difference between what is "right" and what is political. Her husband, the consummate politician, played his cards close and well.

This volume includes much of wh
Jim Kelsh
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the third volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook's exhaustive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. Painstakingly researched; Cook comes with a decidedly feminist POV. That's ok, because for the most part ER was a leading feminist.
This volume covers 1939 supposedly through her death in 1962. I say supposedly because after FDR's death in 1945; Cook speeds to the end. I wished for a more detailed discovery of her later years.
Cook covers a variety of ER's romantic interests, including Lorena Hickock, Joe
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway***

So, first off, Eleanor Roosevelt was an amazing human being. Second, Blanche Wiesen Cook is a great writer who really did her research with this trilogy.

That's the good. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed by this book. She spends 500 pages from 1939 - 1944...which, I get it, is a very important time period. But that left 70 pages to go through the last 20 years of Eleanor's life (including all her work as a UN delegate under multiple presidents).
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the final book of three volumes of ER's life. I appreciate the decades of study the author devoted to the project, but I can't help being extremely disappointed in the outcome. The first 2 2/3 of the series are wonderfully detailed and show a woman devoted to equality and humanitarianism. But then FDR dies. And the last 17 years of ER's life -- years she spent working at the United Nations in its early days and helping to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- are summed up i ...more
Cynthia Bemis Abrams
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like many, I powered through the first two volumes of this series and then paused for the third to be published. Cook is a wonderful writer and her research on ER is definitive, extensive and perhaps most importantly... was conducted with a woman's curiosity.

However, she toiled in some areas of ER's life more than others. Perhaps there was just more original source material for ER's public life than her private or family experiences. Bottom line, I completed the book feeling inspired and connect
A bit of a strange end to this trilogy. The book says it goes to 1962, but it is mostly a history of World War 2 mixed with Eleanor's stances, and then very little after the war. Eleanor had a ton of political takes that were way ahead of their time and are still relevant today. Her particular stance on ending all wars, while in the middle of World War 2 was interesting. A lot of her stances were basically impossible to enact with the views of the majority of Americans being so opposed, but she ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
As others have said, the power of this biography is diminished by a completely rushed final chapter on the last 17 years of Eleanor's life. After so much depth, in 2.9 volumes, no less, this cursory conclusion was truly disappointing. Yet, the bulk of the book does a masterful job in delineating Eleanor's longtime struggles, and sometimes victories, as a dogged advocate for civil and human rights. ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We really need another Eleanor Roosevelt. She challenged the process and really accomplished a lot during a period of time where many was repressed, an example of using your position for good. I highly recommend all three volumes. My only negative comment is that her years after FDR's death are just summarized which I think does her a disservice. She did so much great even after FDR's death that there should have been a volume 4. ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another thorough, well documented, engrossing volume in this definitive study of Eleanor Roosevelt. I feared it would never appear, since many years had passed since vol. 2. Despite the title, the story basically stops with FDR’s death in 1945. I found this disappointing, but we do have the much older “Eleanor, the Years Alone” by Joseph Lash.
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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

Other books in the series

Eleanor Roosevelt (3 books)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 1: 1884-1933
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Defining Years, 1933-38

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