NO ORDINARY TIME by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Kirkus Star


Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Homefront in World War II
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A superb dual portrait of the 32nd President and his First Lady, whose extraordinary partnership steered the nation through the perilous WW II years. In the period covered by this biography, 1940 through Franklin's death in 1949, FDR was elected to unprecedented third and fourth terms and nudged the country away from isolationism into war. It is by now a given that Eleanor was not only an indispensable adviser to this ebullient, masterful statesman, but a political force in her own right. More than most recent historians, however, Goodwin (The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, 1987) is uncommonly sensitive to their complex relationship's shifting undercurrents, which ranged from deep mutual respect to lingering alienation caused by FDR's infidelity. One element creating tension was tactical politics: FDR, seeing increased arms production as crucial to the war effort, sought to close the divide between businessmen and his administration, while Eleanor prodded him not to forget about labor, civil rights, and Jewish refugees. As grateful as he was to her for acting as his political eyes and ears, Franklin also could react testily to her unremitting lobbying at times when he desperately needed relief from the strains of running the war effort. Equally fascinating here are the often semi-permanent White House guests who filled the couple's "untended needs": their daughter and four sons; FDR alter ego Harry Hopkins, shaking off grave illness to go on critical diplomatic missions; Franklin's secretary Missy LeHand, prevented by a stroke from serving the man she loved; exiled Princess Martha of Norway, who gave Franklin the unqualified affection of which Eleanor was incapable; two of Eleanor's confidantes, future biographer Joe Lash and the lesbian ex-journalist Lorena Hickok; and Winston Churchill. A moving drama of patchwork intimacy in the White House, played out against the sweeping tableau of the nation rallying behind a great crusade.
Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-64240-5
Page count: 864pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994


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