THE CHALLENGE by Arthur M. Schlesinger
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THE CHALLENGE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Schlesinger's view, Roosevelt is the summation of an era in American, social, political and economic life. He corresponds, in this respect, to Napoleon; anything about him, whether bearing directly upon his personal achievements or concerned merely with the period in which he lived, is of the same historical substance, compellingly important. The truth of Schlesinger's book is that it uses instances- small and large -of national crisis, statements of opinion, personality sketches, syntheses of philosophic and psychological forces, and even the biographical circumstances of its central hero as exemplifications, as viewpoints, and mass prisms for an almost indefinable movement or idea or embodiment which is the raw nature of 20th century history in America. The materials are transcended and transfigured, and in this creative act their inherent meaning is exposed. With an astonishing sense of the appropriate, the essential, Schlesinger writes of Lillian Wald and Hull House, Coolidge, Wilson, Harding, Hoover's bitterness toward his incumbent, Al Smith's connivance during the Presidential nominations, strikes and bonus marches, reduction of tariff, socialism's brief flowering and adherents, John Dewey's influence, and of course F.D.R. in his countless aspects as son, husband, unvanquished polio victim, magical charmer and unalterably reserved friend, speech-maker, dreamer, wit. If only time itself can permit of a fair, final estimate of Roosevelt, so only time will give full measure to this early appraisal which seeks to draw upon all that is fresh and demonstrable about the man- the phenomenon. Not to be missed by any person with a potential interest in the subject.
Pub Date: June 15th, 1956
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1956




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