ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, WITH LOVE: A Centenary Remembrance by Elliott Roosevelt


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The Roosevelt family's most prodigious memoirist has written a meaningless book intended as a biographical tribute to his mother on the 100th anniversary of her birth. What presumably makes it for younger readers is its slightness and thinness--and tiptoeing around or ignoring subjects that fill the media. What makes it not for young people, those deficiencies apart, is the absence of a biographical narrative and the lack of historical fact. The episode in Eleanor Roosevelt's young life on which her later transformation turned, her schooling at Mlle. Souvestre's, is dispatched in a two-sentence reference to the ""fine, basic education"" that ER acquired and her (unexplained) fondness for Mlle. S. The spotty history is a mishmash of uninformative detail (""The National Recovery Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority were a few of the myriads of job programs. . ."") and senseless generalizations (""The partnership of Mother and Father had wrought a revolution in the United States""). Insofar as the book is a chronology, it tells us that ER was an insecure child; that she blossomed through helping FDR recover from polio, and her own contacts with active women; etc. But it consists mainly of disjointed, disproportionate fragments (Elliott's recollection of the onset of FDR's polio, for instance, names the owner of the boat in which he arrived at Campobello, and the four physicians who took care of him)--of which only a very few have eyewitness value. Other centenary works will serve old and young better.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1984
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton