Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman” as Want to Read:
Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  148 ratings  ·  46 reviews
More than fifty years after her death, Eleanor Roosevelt is remembered as a formidable first lady and tireless social activist. Often overlooked, however, is her deep and inclusive spirituality. Her personal faith was shaped by reading the New Testament in her youth, giving her a Jesus-centered spirituality that fueled her commitment to civil rights, women s rights, and th ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published March 2nd 2017 by Westminster John Knox Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Eleanor, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Eleanor

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  148 ratings  ·  46 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman
This is the first biography I have read about Eleanor Roosevelt and it will most certainly not be the last. It was a great introduction to the life of a prominent and influential figure of the twentieth century. Eleanor Roosevelt left a lasting impression on everything she was involved with, including politics, diplomacy, activism and humanitarian causes. The fact that this remains her legacy, more so than serving as the First Lady, makes for a very impressive resume!

The author argues that Elean
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. I had no idea she was so far ahead of her time and was such a civil rights leader! Very readable and enjoyable.
Elaine Kidwell
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find Eleanor Roosevelt a fascinating, if ignatmic figure. If nothing else, she was Franklin’s equal; if not his superior. Until I read Eleanor: a Spiritual Biography Biography, I did not appreciate her depth. Her grasp of the “unseen” was stunning and humbling. Now I understand the well from which she drew her phenomenal strength.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is very readable and starts off strong. The author presents an interesting perspective on how Eleanor Roosevelt's faith drove her decisions and her advocacy. However, there's a fair bit of conjecture ('Eleanor might have thought', 'it may have been what led her to...'). ...more
Well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking, educational ... I loved everything about this book (the only thing missing was photographs!)
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Eleanor a Spiritual Biography by Harold Ivan Smith

First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt was an “unelected” political leader who was a formidable social activist and proponent of change in America during the most turbulent times of the 20th century. In this well researched and documented biography, Dr. Harold Smith delves into the heart breaking loss and bereavement that fueled both the deep faith and provided the impetus for her convictions, actions, and commitme
Robert D. Cornwall
Eleanor Roosevelt not only was the longest serving First Lady, with the exception of HIllary Clinton, she is surely the most influential First Lady in American History. Not only was she a powerful political figure, but she was deeply spiritual in her orientation. A life-long Episcopalian, she would come to believe that faith without works is dead, that Micah's call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with one's God stood at the heart of the Christian faith. While she was a committed Chris ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman, by author Harold Ivan Smith is filled with historical accounts of the great Eleanor Roosevelt. The author has noted interviews and taken written documentation and public records of the words and actions of a remarkable first lady. I have long appreciated the tireless work of Eleanor Roosevelt for the under-privileged poor and the civil rights of all people. I admire her staying true to her beliefs in the face ...more
Kathy Hassig
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the books I read for the United Methodist Women's reading program. While I didn't agree with everything Eleanor Roosevelt stood for I did agree with a lot of it. ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book: Eleanor Roosevelt was a fascinating woman, and I was so intrigued to discover more about her. Instead, this book felt like a patchwork of other works, interviews, the author’s musings, and had the overall impression of a poorly made textbook. The history is interesting, but this book lost my interest and was very difficult to read: it did little justice to Eleanor.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: umw-book-list
UMW 2019 Leadership Development. I'm really glad this was on the United Methodist Women recommended reading list. I expected it to be dry reading; I enjoyed the insights into such a famous woman!

Pg. 204. I liked the quote from her 1st published book (1933), It's Up to the Women - "I think we shall have fulfilled our mission...if we never saw a wrong without trying to right it; we never intentionally left unhappiness where a little effort would have turned it into happiness, and we were more cri
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recently, I had the pleasure of being a recipient of the book, "Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography: The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman," by Harold Ivan Smith.
As a long-time admirer of this great woman, and as someone that likes to read all sorts of genres, I was pleased to have read this book, and to be able to recommend it to you.
Many of us may know some things about Mrs. Roosevelt, including her terrible early life, her difficult marriage to an almost iconic Franklin Delano Ro
Terri Wangard
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eleanor Roosevelt is known for her public activism and passion for human rights, championing the poor and oppressed. I had known vaguely of her work, but had no idea how extensive it was. In Eleanor, A Spiritual Biography, the author traces how she came by her religious faith and how it prompted her actions.

What religion one belonged to didn’t matter as long as one practiced that religion. One of her great-grandsons became a Reconstructionist rabbi, and the author believes that would have please
Sue Jackson
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was very pleasantly surprised to read about Eleanor Roosevelt. She was far more influential and outspoken than I recalled regarding the rights of women, Jews, blacks, children and so much more. She stood strong in her beliefs not only as a Christian but also as a human. Because of her strong beliefs, she often went against what was the common view of the time. What is amazing is that she spoke out while being limited as a President's wife and then widow during a time that women were not listen ...more
Faith Flaherty
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Book Club's choice for this month is "Eleanor A Spiritual Biography The Faith of the 20th Century's Most Influential Woman", by Harold Ivan Smith. I had difficulty in procuring this book through the Minuteman Library System. There was only one book circulating but I did sign up. The Sails Library System had none. Amazon wanted $ 17.00 and the Kindle version is $ 16.00. But what if I don't like it. I've wasted $ 17-16!

I decided I wasn't going to bother. When the book club discussion came around,
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: would-read-again
On every page of this book, I learned new things about Eleanor Roosevelt and her faith, and I felt inspired to exercise my faith more. A vibrant, tireless woman, she demonstrated her belief that faith without works is dead. Despite childhood abuse, her husband's infidelity and grief, Eleanor addressed meaningful issues and current events without backing down or refusing to be silenced by her critics. Her husband and others backed down because of political pressure or the need to get reelected, b ...more
Pat Jorgenson Waterchilde
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
An inspirational read about an influential woman who lived her faith and changed the world. We know of Eleanor Roosevelt and her many ways she influenced and spoke out against abuses in the world. Harold Smith highlights the many ways she lived and worked through her beliefs, her prayers and her understanding of Biblical teachings.
Her outspoken manner challenged many. Although not perfect, she strived to be a voice to those who suffered and struggled in an often times an unjust world.
Well writt
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG- I loved this book and I love this woman!!
The story reads more like a took me so much longer to finish than I ever imagined it would - due to the fact I kept putting it down to look something up re Eleanor Roosevelt! Whether it be to see a picture, hear an interview or song or watch a video...I just had to know as much as I could about this amazing woman. As the book ends with the (modified) scripture from Hebrews 4:11 -
“And by faith she still speaks, even though she is dea
This is a must read if you want to be inspired by a woman of faith and action. I absolutely loved learning more about her and all that she did to help people from all walks of life and am more motivated than ever to follow my heart to help others in whatever way I feel led regardless of criticism I might receive over it. If you want to be a better leader and a person of action (man or woman), read this book.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, if this was my copy I would have a lot of quotes highlighted. Harold Ivan Smith created a wonderful biography of a great lady. I am so encouraged by her example of life lived for others. Having lived such a life of trauma at an early age and becoming such a crusader for children, women, marginalized people as well as refugees, civil rights and the United Nations, she set a get legacy for many to follow.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was not a book I would have picked up to read but was read as part of a UMW book club offering. When I think of Eleanor Roosevelt I think of the active role she led as First Lady. This book shows how Eleanor's religious upbringing and ongoing faith transformed the pain from her terrible, lonely childhood and betrayals by her husband and others she trusted into great empathy and a drive to make a difference in the world. ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Eleanor Roosevelt’s life story is remarkable but I’m afraid this telling is not. This book is a patchwork of quotes and paraphrases from more notable biographies by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Ken Burns. The author lost his creditably with me when he interjected himself into the narrative using the first person “I” and conjecturing what Eleanor was “probably thinking.” Three stars out of the respect for the author whom I feel had good intentions in writing this book.
Carol Carmichael
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman before her time in a lot of ways, yet she left her mark on our country and the world. I have read other books by or about her, but in this biography the author truly sees her essence. She was a remarkable woman, and this is without a doubt a remarkable biography.
Ann Otto
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book provides a good way to understand the philosophy behind the social influence and strength of this 20th century leader. Although little new is learned about her life story, the research on her early religion and the reasons behind her religious tolerance is helpful.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
An admirable, maligned woman, sustained by a strong faith in the face of fierce, brutal criticism. Her faith kept her focused. She was a powerful advocate for the powerless. The niece of a President and the wife of a President.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
excellently written she is an inspiration her model would be hard to obtain this book and her beliefs brought much reality to the social problems of that Era that continue to echo with us today as a culture we have accomplished so much but we have so much more to do
Yolanda Toney
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the Best

It was one of the most moving accounts of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt’s life that I have ever read. The details of her early life lent a greater understanding and appreciation of who she was and how in spite of numerous barriers she not just survived but thrived.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
An important book about an important woman. Includes important information but is somewhat plodding in many places.
Michelle Auwae-Lapilio
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A terrific human.
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Great insight
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • When Momma Speaks: The Bible and Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective
  • The Same Sky
  • Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim
  • 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith
  • When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up
  • Tilly and the Crazy Eights
  • How the Woman at the Well Became the Well Woman: A Memoir of an Extraordinary Ordinary Life
  • Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood
  • The Feathered Bone
  • Escape from the Green Mansion: Ordinary Church Women and Their Extraordinary Rescue of San Francisco's Brothel Slaves
  • Legacy of Lies (Bocephus Haynes, #1)
  • The Soulmaking Room
  • I Am a Big Brother
  • The New Baby (A Golden Look-Look Book)
  • Tractor (Touch and Feel)
  • World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Atlas
  • Lift-the-Flap Tab: Trucks
  • The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes. 10 Ingredients or Less
See similar books…
Harold Ivan Smith, 1947-

Harold Ivan Smith, MA, ED.S., FT, DMin, is a national speaker, noted author, experienced counselor and grief educator. He has presented bereavement workshops across the country, training more than 20,000 professionals and lay caregivers during a thirty-year career. Seminar and conference attendees rave about interactions with Harold Ivan, and his insightful gifts of helping

News & Interviews

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team...
38 likes · 3 comments