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The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
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The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  2,819 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
This is the story of a political miracle - the perfect match of man and moment. Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March of 1933 as America touched bottom. Banks were closing everywhere. Millions of people lost everything. The Great Depression had caused a national breakdown.
With the craft of a master storyteller, Jonathan Alter brings us closer than ever before to
Published May 5th 2006 by Audio Partners (first published April 15th 2006)
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Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in the
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit to reading this one because Obama was reading it and because so many pundits have been citing similarities between the Depression in the 30ies and Roosevelt’s first 100 days of New Deal legislation and the situation currently faced by our new president. I ended up seeing more differences than similarities between the two presidents and between the two situations—which doesn’t mean the book isn’t not only interesting but timely. By the way, I agree with the author that this time around 10 ...more
Dick Tatro
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will give you a view of why FDR was able to save Democracy and capitalism by his progressive reforms. This book puts you at the start of the depression and what FDR did to save America. Good reading in this time of Obama. The President has read this book and many of his Idea's are from the first 100 days of FDR. Since the economy appears to be on the right track and health care has passed, I think we are seeing the earlier stages of what will be come known as a mythical Presidency. Oba ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Jonathan Alter’s “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope” was published in 2006. Alter is a journalist and author and was a columnist for Newsweek magazine for nearly thirty years. His most recent book “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies” was published in 2013.

Despite its title, “The Defining Moment” is not a book focused exclusively – or even mostly – on FDR’s first one hundred days in office. Nor is it a comprehensive biogra
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(2009 At Least A Book A Week) Week 1

So, I am starting off 2009 trying to at least read a book a week. It isn't a lofty goal, but something I could perhaps pull off.

"The Defining Moment" was week 1. I figure it fits right in there with the whole new Presidency thing going on right now. It was an easy read. And quite interesting. For the one thing... did you FDR basically saved democracy? At the time of his inauguration a good majority of newspapers were telling him that he should become a dictato
Doug Mitchell
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s funny how time works. Ask almost anyone to name the best U.S. presidents, and you will get a predictable list. Along with the ubiquitous Washington and Lincoln, you will more than likely get a lot of responses that include Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And why not? Roosevelt was elected a record four times, is widely credited for getting America out of the Great Depression, and helped defeat Nazi Germany. Pretty good stuff.

The thing is, and what we forget over time, is that FDR almost didn’t b
Clif Hostetler
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Those of us alive now have a difficult time understanding the degree of fear and uncertainty felt by people in 1933 when the banks were closing and they had no idea what the future held. One had to live through the time to know how it felt. Even then, some people soon forgot and started complaining about FDR’s efforts to fight the depression. They forgot that before FDR's inauguration may leading thinkers (including the respected columnist Walter Lippman) were encouraging him to assume dictatori ...more
This is an interesting history of FDR that details his pre-presidential life and career and the 100 Days once he was elected (and significant treatment of Eleanor too). Much of the focus is on his style and personality. He is alternately portrayed as a bit of a flip-flopper, to use a modern term, manipulative, a bit less than fully forthright, not necessarily an intellectual yet wide open to new ideas, a natural politician with the right instincts, a leader, and probably a few more. It's no fawn ...more
When will Jonathan Alter write a second book? The Defining Moment is a great non-comprehensive biography of how FDR became the FDR responsible for his historic first hundred days, the measure to which all presidents are now held.

The majority of the book is a narrative of the essential events and encounters in FDR's life prior to his election. Alter spends so much time leading up to the book's main subject because he rightfully believes that FDR's life was crucial to the decisions he made as pre
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Americans
I read this when President Obama let it out that he was reading this book right before taking office.

And it is a fantastic book. The author brings alive FDR as if we were living in the 1930s. From his personal history to his strenghts and weaknesses, and I really feel like I got to know President Roosevelt through Alter's writing.

I basked in the background info there is here about The New Deal, and the history and circumstances of Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the CCC, etc. T
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  • Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America
  • FDR
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  • The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman & the Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1941-45
  • Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents, #21)
  • Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield
  • Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power
  • Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
  • Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History
  • The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
  • James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
  • Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man
  • Benjamin Harrison (The American Presidents, #23)
  • Eisenhower: The White House Years
  • Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship
Jonathan Alter is an American columnist and senior editor for Newsweek magazine, where he has worked since 1983. Alter is a Chicago, Illinois native and resident of Montclair, New Jersey. He is a contributing correspondent to NBC News, where since 1996 he has appeared on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. When the shows were on the air, he could often be heard on Imus in the Morning and The Al Franken Show on ...more
More about Jonathan Alter...