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Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Defining Years, 1933-38

(Eleanor Roosevelt #2)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,555 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Historians, politicians, feminists, critics, and reviewers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook's monumental Eleanor Roosevelt as the definitive portrait of this towering female figure of the twentieth century. Now in her long-awaited, majestic second volume, Cook takes readers through the tumultuous era of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the gathering storm
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Paperback, 736 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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Start your review of Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Defining Years, 1933-38
Mikey B.
This second volume covers a much shorter time period – from 1933 to 1938. These are definitely key years in the history of the United States with Franklin Roosevelt attempting to overcome the effects of the Depression – and, throughout the world, with Nazism and Fascism on the rise in Germany, Italy and Japan.

Eleanor Roosevelt was at the forefront of it all. As described in this book she is constantly on the move – giving speeches, writing articles and books, and meeting with diverse groups of p
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Darcy
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's possible that my high rating is influenced by my delight at FINALLY finishing this book, but only slightly; it was truly an enjoyable and informative read. Eleanor Roosevelt is the Mary Poppins bag of historical figures -- every time I think I understand her, she surprises me. (And every time I start to put her on a pedestal, she frustrates or disappoints me. Kudos to Cook for her honest portrayal.) As in Volume 1, Cook did a masterful job of capturing ER's personal and professional story, ...more
Linda
Very thorough, very enjoyable.
I've loved reading about the Roosevelts, for some reason, since I was very young. I've read Joseph Lash's books and Doris Kearns Goodwin's. Last summer I read "Hissing Cousins" about Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. I've watched the PBS series about the Roosevelt's. And yet, I can still learn something new.
Much of the information in this book comes from letters. I'd read this one again.
Susan Katz
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Like Cook's first volume about Eleanor Roosevelt, this is an excellent book, well researched and well written. I can't help thinking how easily ER could have been a different person. She had the money and position to indulge herself in gratifying her own personal desires. And she had the background of tragedy and grief that could easily have been used to justify selfishness. And yet she chose to devote her life to helping others with almost unbelievable energy and self-sacrifice. To be "of use," ...more
Catherine
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A delight. Revealed: ER was a terrible cook but a brilliant politician. I would highly recommend this biographical series to anybody who cares about the history of Women's Rights, White House gossip, New Deal politics, and how-to-become-a-tour-de-force-in-politics-even-if-your-husband-is-a-cheating-weasel.
Krenzel
May 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
In the first volume of her series on Eleanor Roosevelt, Blanche Wiesen Cook, a historian and women’s studies professor, introduced us to a compelling historical figure who, after years of living in passive submission to her husband and mother-in-law, had finally broken free to create her own "independent life" – a life filled with careers (teacher, writer, public speaker) and fulfilling private friendships. In volume two, Eleanor Roosevelt faces the challenge of keeping her independent life as s ...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: https://www.wnba-centennial.org/book-...

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

Volume 2 chronicles Roosevelt's first six years as America's most controversial first lady and maps her contributions to the New Deal. When Eleanor discovered her husband’s marital infidelities, she decided not to divorce him, but to create a new marital partnership that allowe
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Don
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite some time ago, the Hofstra Alumni Book Club chose to read the first volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook's comprehensive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. I was so impressed with it that I promised myself I would read volume II. I then moved on to other great books and forgot all about it. When I saw that the third volume became available in recorded form, I decided that it was time to read volume II.

As can be seen from the title, this volume deals with the first five years of F.D.R.'s presidency.
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Summer
The first volume of this look at Eleanor Roosevelt's life was riveting even at 600+ pages. This volume however, was a slog to get through. I found myself increasingly annoyed at the author's clear bias and slanted portrayal of the facts. Perhaps things were the way she presented them, but she seemed to be making a lot of leaps and I would have preferred her to present them as such instead of writing as if she were in ER's head. It made it hard to know what was presented as ER's feelings because ...more
Frances Johnson
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This second book in a three part series by Blanche Wiesen Cook covers the presidential years of Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady to WWII. It is excellent and covers all the important subjects ER worked on during those years, her many friends who didn't always get along with each other, the loving relationships she had with both male and female friends, and the often difficult relationship she had with her husband, the President. It's an important book about an important and talented woman. What s ...more
Lee
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I do not read a lot of nonfiction for leisure reading because I read a lot of it for my job. So when I love a work of nonfiction (and read as many pages of it as these two volumes are) that is really saying something. I read this volume (the second one) first because my book club chose it. I was so fascinated with Eleanor Roosevelt and thought the book was so well written that I also read Volume One before the meeting. Bottom line -- Eleanore Roosevelt was an amazing woman whose ethics are well ...more
Danielle
Jul 04, 2010 is currently reading it
I'm currently reading this one. Eleanor Roosevelt has challenged me to be more involved in my community and be aware of what's going on in the world. She constantly had to redefine herself and sometimes put her own needs aside for the better of her family
George
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A powerful,inspiring portrait of a remarkable woman in her first six years as First Lady. My one regret is that so far vol. 3, carrying the story beyond 1938, has yet to appear.
Patty
The two volume set on ER is very good, sort of biography through the prism of events and politics. She was a fascinating woman. The only disappointment is that the set only goes up to 1938.
Caroline
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, the second volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook's three-part biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, covers the first five years of her role as First Lady of America, from 1933-1938. It's quite a brief interlude in a life, considering the first volume covers the first forty-plus years of ER's life before the White House, and the final volume covers the next thirty-odd years of ER's life up to her death in 1962. But in many ways these five years were the central years of ER's life, setting a pattern ...more
Lucas
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
To write a biography of anyone between the years of 1933 and 1938 is going to be a challenge. The author, Blanche Wiesen Cook, had to figure out how to juggle writing about Eleanor Roosevelt's life, while also setting the table for the rise of fascism and the impending breakout of World War 2. It looks like some of the reviews felt that Cook didn't find the right balance, but I thought it was well done.

This is really a book about the danger of silence when other people are oppressed. Cook convi
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Maryann Jorissen
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very in-depth view of Eleanor, describing her feelings and opinions as they develop and unfold. I never realized just how much she influenced change in the US. Nor did I realize the extent to which she was a champion for those who could not help themselves. She can be credited with improving quality of life for many, including Southern Negroes, through her position as a First Lady.
Even with her position, she still had to swim against the tide of political opposition. For instance, women weren't
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Raza Syed
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Volume 2 of Eleanor Roosevelt excellent biography - Is as good as the first one.

The time period covered in this one is only 5 years but it’s a crucial time period in American as well as World history. This was the time when FDR as president was trying to deal with the Effects of the Great Depression while handling one international crisis after another. Nazis were in power and the world was rushing towards the Second World War...

During this time she helped FDR a lot; sometimes by guiding, someti
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Karin Mika
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series of books about Eleanor Roosevelt is tough to slog through but well worth the trouble for anyone who really wants to know what was going on in the US during the 1930s. We often regard the presidency of FDR with romanticism, but it really was not. It was sinisterly like the current administration, rife with racism, antisemitism, as well as a nationalistic fervor that certainly did not suggest we were a country if compassion. Like now, Republicans played the role of villain, although So ...more
Lynn
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can only review this along with Volume 1, 1894-1933. These two volumes provide an extremely in-depth look and analysis of Eleanor Roosevelt. In explaining the various influences and influencers in her life, Cook goes of on what seem like tangents but the backstory details allow for more understanding of Mrs. Roosevelt's life choices. These are two books about an incredible, independent woman, during times when women were not recognized as such, who always forged ahead.
The writing is fairly dry
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Elizabeth
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Volume 2 of 3 of the Eleanore Roosevelt biography. What a woman! There were people who actually wanted her to run for president in 1940...imagine a woman president!

This book is a lesson in politics. Whereas Eleanor could have her opinion (about refugees, the Spanish Civil War, African-Americans), FDR was always looking at the political landscape. It is kind of disheartening that he supported his future in the White House (which no one guessed at) rather than what was the right thing to do. It's
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Gail
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
This second volume of the the biography deepens my appreciation of Eleanor (and slightly reduces my admiration for FDR). Eleanor stakes out her own intellectual and social and political territory in these years. While she remains loyal to her husbands goals and tactics (to a certain extent), she speaks and acts independently on causes that are important to her. I was interested to see how much her independence was accepted by the media and people at this time; it seems to me that a First Lady is ...more
Bella
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Blanche Wisen Cook is an amazing writer and she doesn’t shy away from the real life and personality of Eleanor Roosevelt. There is none of the historical revisionism that happens so often in histories of women and queer people, and I appreciate that. Cook isn’t anachronistic, but clearly shows relationships and leads readers to the right conclusions with her thorough research.

However, this book was so very dense. I wouldn’t think 4 years of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life could feel so dense, but I go
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Anneli Hardy
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m falling more and more in love with the type of person Eleanor Roosevelt was. I love that she sticks up for what is important to her, even in a world who is sometimes not ready to hear it. Her ability to fight for the rights of all humans is so inspiring.

One moment I really loved from this book is when ER was in the south at a meeting where both black and white Americans were in attendance. When she saw that the room was segregated, she sat by the black group. When asked to follow segregatio
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Martha Fiorentini
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finally finished this book. It is quite long and detailed, so it takes a lot of concentration to read it. I also read Volume 1.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an amazing woman, way ahead of her time. I enjoyed learning so many facts about her.
The only thing that I found annoying, was the author's constant reference to Lorena Hickok, how she felt about this or that event. If I wanted to know about her, I would have read a book about her. Tracking Eleanor Roosevelt's many events was challenging enough.
Diane
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
An ambitious and highly detailed portrayal that doesn’t shy away from a well rounded view of ER. She could be brave and progressive, then disappointing and passive aggressive with those close to her. This is a fascinating time in history, and this volume is superb at switching the lens from the large world and domestic stage to the intimate details of ER’s love life. You get a view of how ER’s political and social opinions evolved and of how she and FDR lived in an open marriage. It ended abrupt ...more
Christine Buesing
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 Not quite as good as vol 1, partly because it is dauntingly long and has so much information in there from just a few short years.
Very well written and generally easy to follow. I loved learning more about ER and these years in the white house. She is so inspiring. If I am a fraction of the woman ER was I will have considered my life a success.
Its pretty cool to have finished this book on her birthday as well. :-)
Karen
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This book 2 was a bit more tedious to read because it focused so much on her love affair with her friend Hick in 3/4 of the book and only got to the important roles she played in the political shift towards Hitler etc. in the last 1/4 of the book. I know her private life made her who she was, but it just seemed too long and drawn out in this part of the trilogy of books. Still love reading this trilogy though.
Adele Wijeysingha
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I was curious to read about America 100 years ago and ER. Previous to this book and the first volume I had only read bits and pieces of ER. This book is well written, kept me interested in most of the happenings at that time. ER was a very busy, strong and active woman. Long read but so glad I got to the end of this book.
Sherrie
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
I friggin' love this series. Eleanor is fascinating and instructive in her own right...and the writing is really fabulous. My only complaint (and it is VERY minor) is that this whole book only covered about 6 years. It makes me worry that there's too many things left to fit into the final book.
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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 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962

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