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Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 1: 1884-1933

(Eleanor Roosevelt #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,792 ratings  ·  228 reviews
Celebrated by feminists, historians, politicians & reviewers everywhere, Blanche Wiesen Cook's Eleanor Roosevelt presents an unprecedented portrait of the towering female figure of the 20th century. This volume begins with her harrowing childhood, describes the difficulties of her marriage & explains how she persuaded Franklin to make the reforms that would make him famous ...more
Paperback, 587 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Penguin Group (first published 1992)
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Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews There's a comprehensive biography of Eleanor coming out in October by David Michaelis. I received an ARC and am reviewing it tomorrow evening on my bl…moreThere's a comprehensive biography of Eleanor coming out in October by David Michaelis. I received an ARC and am reviewing it tomorrow evening on my blog, I compare Wiesen Cook's volumes with the new biography.(less)

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Mikey B.
The early years of Eleanor Roosevelt read much like a Charles Dickens novel. She was unloved and uncared for. Her mother shunted her aside as a nuisance that interfered with her posturing in upper class society. She also found her daughter physically unappealing. Her mother died suddenly when Eleanor was 8 years old. Her father was a compulsive drunkard absent much of the time. Fortunately her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt (brother to her father), was a far better role model. After the death of her ...more
Eleanor Roosevelt was a very interesting woman, and volume 1 of her biography is fairly well-written and gives loads of details about her life, perhaps too much. The length was very daunting, and I am a quick, determined reader. Some of the information in this book could have been deleted and still represented her life well. There were also times where the same information was repeated in a slightly different way in more than one chapter. Many times I personally did not agree with Eleanor Roosev ...more
Laurie Carlson
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book all about Eleanor Roosevelt. Everything you ever wanted to know about her and her family, and of course, all about Franklin's family as well. This book is so detailed, it is Book 1 of 2. I always wondered if they were related how and why they would marry. It is all explained in the book that there were two separate families of Roosevelts, each not related to the other. This book is very detailed in all circumstances. You learn all about Eleanor, from her childhood to every member ...more
Susanne Clower
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I'm reading this so soon after finishing a biography of FDR. Both authors act as their subjects' champion. Thus the FDR bio depicts ER as mostly unsupportive and self-absorbed (after the Lucy Mercer incident), while the ER bio expresses outrage at FDR's casual negligence and his dismissal of his wife's accomplishments. At the same time both books acknowledge the firm partnership that the marriage became. For myself, both FDR's and ER's life is inspiring. I'm particularly glad to be read ...more
Aaron Million
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The first volume of a trilogy on Eleanor Roosevelt takes her from birth up until she became First Lady in 1933. Blanche Wiesen Cook focuses extensively on Roosevelt's messed up childhood, and rightly so because it damaged her severely and ill-prepared her for the troubles that she was to face later in life. She was someone born into high society but not really wishing to be a part of it. She romanticized an alcoholic father and suffered at the hands of a frosty mother. The early death of both pa ...more
Shay Caroline
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
After seeing the PBS series about the Roosevelts, I wanted to find a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt that would tell me about the human being more than the public figure, and this was the book I was looking for. However, though it is well written, extremely well researched, and informative, I have to say it was very hard to get through, and I had to set it aside for a while when I was half way done; I just didn't want to know THAT much about anybody, and Blanche Cook never met a detail she didn't ...more
This was a fabulous book that covers the life or Eleanor Roosevelt up to the day she officially becomes First Lady. This is history writing at its narrative best as it not only tells the story of Eleanor, but it tells the story of the country and the people around her at the same time. The author was fair in her praise and criticism of Eleanor, but she clearly was not a fan of Franklin and seemed to take every opportunity to take a shot at him throughout the book. Really looking forward to the n ...more
I have loved reading about the Roosevelt family for years. Perhaps I was drawn to a woman who stepped away from the shadow of men, thought and acted for herself during a time when this was uncommon - especially for a married woman.
Despite the fact that chronologies seem linear, stories often are not. I really liked this book, but occasionally was befuddled by the time. The title designates the period for the book, but that did not keep later dates from creeping in to finish a story or relationsh
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Top Eight Things I Learned about Eleanor Roosevelt:

1)Incredibly traumatic childhood

2)Ran her own school while FDR was governor of New York

3)Had a furniture making factory

4)Big time woman's rights advocate

5)Teddy Roosevelt's niece (he gave her away at her wedding)

6)Was an anti-semite before WW2.

7)He cheated, she offered a divorce, he declined, married in name only since that day.

8)The two loves of her adult life were Earl Miller and Lorena Hickok.

Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well this was a hard one to read in audio I had to check it out from the library three times to get through it and I'm not sure how well it would have gone if I hadn't read it before. I'm glad I did even if the woman's voice wasn't annoying at times. ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you had told me this book was so fascinating I wouldn't have believed you. But I read it in a day. What a life, and I have two more volumes to read. It's interesting to read about what happened in the 1920s, and see the parallels to today. Fascinating! ...more
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Such an incredible book. Such depth and truth to this amazing woman who overcame so much. Cook has way of pulling you into Eleanor's life and making you experience everything with her. She gives you enough detail to be involved, but doesn't weight you down in pointless correspondence or stories. A great biography for anyone wanting an honest account of Eleanor's pre-White House years.

Aug 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love Eleanor Roosevelt. I am inspired by her courage, her energy, her strength, her compassion. These books are a little hard to get through though, because Blanche Wiesen Cook is so interested in every detail about everyone that Eleanor Roosevelt ever looked at in her entire life, that it is hard to get be drawn in. I finally started just skimming through parts.
May 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is basically a huge encyclopedia (book number 1 of 2). I tried to read it cover to cover and didn't get very far before I fell asleep. I am a huge fan of this influential woman and a fan of biographies, but this is excruciating detail about every moment of her life told in a very dry and unwitty manner. Find another book! ...more
I'm on Volume 2...first volume was amazing, this one's looking just as good! ...more
Jul 15, 2012 marked it as just-cannot-finish  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive detail is exhausting.
My mother, born in 1914, loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but she always loved Eleanor Roosevelt more. This Volume I of a trilogy sheds a good deal of light on my mother's deep and unwavering respect for "ER," as the author refers to her throughout the book. More importantly, it brought history alive to me.

Blanche Wiesen Cook has spent years researching the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, and this first book, covering the years 1884 - 1933, published in 1992, reflects that careful study of letters, a
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
For many Americans, Eleanor Roosevelt is more a myth than an actual person. In the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. there is a whole floor devoted to American presidents, but just a small wing devoted to our First Ladies, or more specifically their inaugural gowns. While visiting the museum, I picked up a poster of Eleanor Roosevelt, with a nice quote that reads something like, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." Other than my poster, the only thing I knew abo ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Eleanor Roosevelt would definitely have been our first woman president if she were born later. However, we were lucky to have her as an activist, first lady, representative to the United Nations and great American. This first volume of the trilogy follows ER from her birth to moving into the White House.

From her rich, but difficult childhood, through her wonderful experience at a British school, she learned to overcome adversity. Many biographies of ER don't mention her charisma, which really w
Jason Kinn
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
We named our daughter after Eleanor Roosevelt, and this book does not make me regret that decision. ER overcame terrible abandonment and betrayal to become one of the leaders in New York State politics in the 1920s. She demonstrated kindness to others throughout her life, not only through her charitable personal actions but in her advocacy for policy that would redistribute some degree of wealth or provide some protection from the excesses of capitalism.

She was a complex character. On the one h
Maryellen Donahue
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading a biography about Eleanor Roosevelt as a kid. I am glad to have finished this more grownup version. Five hundred pages later...glad to have learned more about her and those around her.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, especially the author's writing style. ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Thought it was extremely interesting, but a bit dry. Took me a really long time to finish. I am eternally grateful, however, because I never realized what an amazing woman ER was.
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:

Cook’s three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt’s influential and inspirational life is a remarkable accomplishment. Cook worked on Roosevelt’s biography for well over 25 years and presents a grand biography not of a remote icon, but of an indomitable woman who welcomed life
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a rare individual for whom I could stand to read a three-volume biography but I think Eleanor Roosevelt deserves one. Her life was so full, so involved and dynamic and controversial than any less would simply not be doing her justice. In many ways Eleanor's life can very easily be divided into three parts this biography takes - her early life and developing political awareness, her years as wife of one of America's most prominent politics and subsequently President, and the years after FDR' ...more
Bruce Knotts
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent book about a magnificent person. I had the pleasure of hearing Blache Wiesen Cook at Roosevelt House, where Sarah Roosevelt tormented her daughter-in-law, Eleanor. Ms. Cook is as wonderful a speaker (channelling Eleanor as she does) as she is a writer. Both hearing her and reading her book are life changing. I learned from this book that Sarah Roosevelt was a Unitarian, of a very judgmental and racist sort. The book makes clear that the terrible challenges that both Eleanor and Fra ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt- it includes her quirks and her mistakes and her flaws, but still shows her as an amazing role model and pioneer of feminism. The work she did was amazing, especially considering the environment of the 1920's and 30's and society's attitude toward women in politics. I can't help but wonder what her impact would be if she were born today and had more opportunities for education and participation. But her perseverence despite the hardships she fac ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book about an admirable woman who lived in strange, dysfunctional world. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, Eleanor never knew the love of her mother, and her father was an alcoholic whose family kept him away from his children for their own safety. Still, she idolized her father. She married into Franklin's family and inherited a domineering mother-in-law who never allowed her to be in charge of her own household or children. She endured Franklin's infidelity and stayed to care ...more
Tracy Fitzpatrick
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
ER is an inspiration!!! I feel like I should write a review to explain my 2 star rating. First I want to say that I can really appreciate all of the effort the author put into this. Endless hours must have been spent researching and capturing the fine details displayed in the book. However, it took me 3 plus years to get through the book. Each chapter would start by capturing my interest but I would lose interest by the end off each and have to force myself to continue to the next. I'm not sure ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I bought this book because I was in a leadership program and we were to read a book on a leader -- I remembered that my mom had read a book about Eleanor when I was young and she used to go do talks pretending she was her. Not sure if this is the same book or not - as this one was long and factual. I mostly skimmed it but will keep to read again if and when I retire
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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 2: The Defining Years, 1933-38
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962

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