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Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The American Presidents #32)

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  290 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
A masterly work by the New York Times bestselling author of Churchill and Gladstone

A protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only man to be elected to the presidency more than twice. In a ranking of chief executives, no more than three of his predecessors could truly be placed in contention with his standing, and of his successors
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 4th 2003 by Times Books
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May 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prezzes
I love FDR. Of course. He was the O.G. of socialist U.S. presidents. (It's a lucky thing that the Tea Party set has no cultural memory -- one of the many qualities of which they are deficient.) Sure, FDR fucked up now and again -- as with his foolish attempt to enlarge the Supreme Court by several members when he didn't much care for the verdicts those old coots were handing down -- but all in all he was a badass, a Superstar of the Executive Branch, with some very progressive ideas and a can-do ...more
Doreen Petersen
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
Although he was lacking in his personal life Franklin Roosevelt was one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen. A must read for all.
Allan Heron
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A brief overview of FDR's path to the presidency and his continuing impact on the world.

This was the book that Jenkins was working on at the time of his death. The last section was completed by his friend Richard Neusdadt. Ironically, this was about Roosevelt's declining health.

As ever with Jenkins his prose sparkles and introduces new words into the reader's lexicon. But that time would have permitted completion of a major biography of FDR by Jenkins.
Selina Gonzalez
Nov 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
A primarily boring biography focusing on Roosevelt's political moves and very little on the man himself. Long sections of test are dedicated to breakdowns of whom Roosevelt appointed to various positions, occasionally with a note about the effect of that appointment, much to the boredom of the reader. Names of propositions and bills, passed and failed, and mentioned quickly with cursory explanations as to their content and effect, without giving much insight. Perhaps partly because I just read a ...more
Pete daPixie
I have previously read Jeff Coker's biography of FDR, but was attracted to this book when I noticed the author was Roy Jenkins, a former British Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister.
Unfortunately Jenkins passed away just prior to the completion of his biography on Roosevelt, but I do not think that this edition of 'The American Presidents' suffers a great deal from that fact.
Apart from his political standing, Jenkins was a historian and this book displays a broad understanding of 20th centu
Fred Kohn
A solid but not exceptionally wonderful entry in this series. Perhaps 3.5 stars. I will say that this read more like a story of the man's life than is typical for a history book, which I enjoyed. However, this was partly due to comparisons to other historical or even literary figures which is great if you recognize the reference but distracting if you don't. This is one of the few books in this series that I would consider rereading.
Kelly Stevens
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was poorly written in many spots and wandering. Might be due to the author's passing while writing the book, it certainly seems to lack later rounds of edits.
Zach Koenig
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
For the most part, the hallmark of this "American Presidents" series is its ability to balance material about the personal lives of each U.S. President with the events of the times they lived in. Every once in awhile, though, there comes along a book/author that goes a bit too deep into the political machinations for the casual reader. Unfortunately, this is one of those entries.

I really enjoyed the last 30 pages or so of the book (when it steps back to take a much broader view of Roosevelt)...b
Shawn Thrasher
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
At first glance, it's an interesting choice to choose a British historian to write about Franklin Roosevelt, although in some subsequent research (does it really count as research if you read someone's Wikipedia?) proves that Roy Jenkins, if anything is an accomplished historian who wrote at least one book about an American politician (Harry Truman). He does write knowledgeably and accurately about the overall American political system and the political system of FDR's time. Kudos to Roy Jenkins ...more
Steven Peterson
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
The American Presidents Series features a series of bios of American Presidents (as one might guess!). Each is brief, providing enough information for those who want to get quickly acquainted with a President--without reading a lengthy work. Personally, I prefer the massive biographies, but these brief volumes serve a useful purpose of making some degree of knowledge of presidents available to a larger public. The focus of this book? FDR, the man who served longest of all presidents, being elect ...more
Gary Schantz
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I didn’t like this book as much as I have enjoyed reading the other books in the American Presidents Series. The main reason for my dislike was the way the book was written. I consider myself an educated man and I have no problem with looking up words if I don’t understand how they are being used or phrased...and, in some cases, when I have never even heard of a word. However in this book, there were so many words I had to look up that I began to realize that this book was a classic contradictio ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: abandoned
A protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only man to be elected to the presidency more than twice. In a ranking of chief executives, no more than three of his predecessors could truly be placed in contention with his standing, and of his successors, there are so far none.

In acute, stylish prose, Roy Jenkins tackles all of the nuances and intricacies of FDR's character. He was a skilled politician with astounding flexibility; he oversaw an incomparable
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Roy Jenkins had an unenviable task. How do you take a presidency that was more than 50% longer than any other presidency (plus packed with an incredibly high density of nation- and world- changing events), and cram a description into the standard 160 or so page format of The American Presidents Series? Jenkins does a decent job of briefing the basics to a reader with little prior knowledge who needs a quick intro, but he has so much mandatory ground to cover that there is no chance to breathe mu ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Jenkins' biography of FDR covers the necessary ground, but it never feels deep and obviously cannot be comprehensive. If you want broad coverage and the general details this quick read will provide them, but do not think you will gain any deep insights into the man. It is odd that the title character of this biography seems more withdrawn from the book than Eleanor, Teddy and Winston who receive brief, lively, and sympathetic descriptions from the author. It also sometimes feels like Jenkins was ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it
In such a thin volume it is only possible to give a pen portrait of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Roy Jenkins own political beliefs allow him a sympathetic view of FDR, but this isn't just a hagiography. Jenkins obviously believes that FDR achieved so much in moving America out of the Great Depression and in leading the US into and through WW II that he was the outstanding western figure of the century. Jenkins does deal with the failures of FDR's presidency and a very ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A slim biography (170 pages, part of an established series on presidents), centering mostly on FDR’s political career, but managing to convey a good deal about FDR’s home life with Eleanor and his matriarchic mother, as well as FDR’s affair with Lucy Mercer.

Jenkins is a masterful and much lauded historian, and he conveys a good deal of solid political information in his limited space, from FDR’s relation with TR to his governorship to the long presidency. Jenkins addresses the “friendship” betwe
Alex Lee
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, history, 2016
This was a fairly light but informative overview of FDR. There wasn't much anecdotal information but we do get a sense of what he did even though we don't get too much of the sense of FDR as a person... I would have liked to see more about how his personal fit with his actions both political and private. But I think that would have required far more room. As it is, this is a fairly succinct and informational biography which does a good job as an introduction so some of the major actions, context ...more
Laura Walin
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Since being hooked to West Wing I have been interested in the US politics, and this was more of a political memoir of FDRs career rather than a biography. In that sense it as very intriguing, as the author tried to track the reasonings and tactics behind the decisions made (or not made). For somebody expecting a (full) biogrpahy this book may be a disappointment, as personal issues were very summarily handled - in fact, just enough to intrigue one to find a more personal biography of this influe ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's great and all, but you wish for more. It reads like it was written by an Anglophile fan who was interested mostly in FDR's interaction with the government of the United Kingdom. Well guess what - that's exactly who it was written by. Roy Jenkins writes a good book, but I'd save this for situations where I wanted a quick summary of the life of FDR. Readers hoping for more detail might be disappointed. Still a great read.
Jim Bowen
This book is a potted biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It rattles along at a decent rate, and breezily covers the entirety his life. If you don't minded the pottedness of it all, it's a good read. It reads best if you treat it that way, or if you view it as a jumping off point to other books.

If, however, you're looking for something deeper or more profound, I'd look elsewhere. I say this because you're not going to get any revelatory or new here.
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This is another easy read in the series of American Presidents. The author(Roy Jenkins)is noted but I felt he did not do this subject justice. He made trivial characterizations of acquaintances, detailed speculation and ran off on tangents. It was informative but did not feel I know who and what Roosevelt was.

Alicia Joy
I did not like the writing style of this author nor the format he chose to take with the biography. He did not go in order and spoke about the whole preaidency from the start of the book. It makes timelines hard to follow. And his style was clunky.
Steve Cunningham
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was sadly unfinished at the time of Roy Jenkins death. Richard Neustadt steps manfully into the breach to complete the narrative, but the result is an endearing biographical sketch rather than the full biographical portrait of its subject of Jenkins' other major works.
Pat Carson
Another good title in the American Presidents series - a little on the short side considering a 4 term president is in the same space as a one or two term! The author is an English politician and historian, which makes for some interesting twists and comments.
Kirk Bower
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Written more on the Britsih perspective, which makes it interesting.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
FDR was a great president but this book is so lacklustre! Focuses more on the political rather than the historical.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Very dull. Lost me very early.
Steven Freeman
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Great overview of one of our greatest presidents.
Joan Porte
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it
A good edition to the series of short books on the Presidents. A good primer.
Nov 21, 2009 added it
Shelves: biography
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  • Woodrow Wilson (The American Presidents, #28)
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There is more than one author with this name

Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead OM PC was a British politician. Once prominent as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) and government minister in the 1960s and 1970s, he became the first (and so far only) British President of the European Commission (1977-81) and one of the four principal founders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981.
More about Roy Jenkins...

Other Books in the Series

The American Presidents (1 - 10 of 41 books)
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  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
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  • John Quincy Adams
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  • Martin Van Buren
  • William Henry Harrison (The American Presidents, #9)
  • John Tyler (The American Presidents, #10)

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