FRANCES PERKINS: A Member of the Cabinet by Bill Severn

FRANCES PERKINS: A Member of the Cabinet

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Severn respects Frances Perkins' intense dislike of ""personal publicity,"" so that, aside from the surprising information that she was once courted by Sinclair Lewis, there are almost no insights into the private woman here. Instead he closely follows Miss Perkins' public career which grew out of settlement house work, and brought her into politics through the campaign for a 54-hour-week for women factory workers. Later Perkins, who had found Tammany politicians more helpful than most reformers, overcame her unfavorable first impression of FDR to serve as his Secretary of Labor and work closely with him in implementing the CCC, Social Security, and other recovery measures. Those with some previous knowledge of, say, the battle for the NRA will be curious about Perkins' role which was usually that of the cautious organizer (anticipating the Supreme Court decision against NRA, she kept a desk drawer full of substitute bills). Of course no special background is required; Severn's detailed reportage is complete in itself though he doesn't help one to form any perspective on his subject's accomplishments and controversial relationship to organized labor. Simply following the issues, one at a time, takes a share of Perkins-style stamina, but this is far and away a more professional performance than Myers' Madam Secretary (1972) which can now be gracefully retired from service.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1976
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Hawthorn