FDR: The New Deal Years, 1933-1937 by Kenneth S. Davis
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FDR: The New Deal Years, 1933-1937

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A continuation of a multi-volume history of FDR and his times by historian Davis, winner of the Francis Parkman Award for an earlier installment. As he himself has' written elsewhere, Davis was an unlikely candidate to undertake the massive task of making sense of Roosevelt and his age. Before setting out to do that, he had been unattracted to the pragmatic craftiness of FDR. However, in FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny and FDR: The New York Years, and now in the present volume, Davis has probably made more sense than any previous writer on the subject. What provides the glue that holds this massive project together is that Davis sees his subject in a wide scope, with the history of the past three centuries as his background. Davis sees that history, worldwide, as a dynamic tension between the intellectual challenge of man against the awesome scientific and technological advances of these past centuries. The major stress upon the history of this period has been the question: ""Does Man possess this Technology and control it--or does it possess and control him?"" Other societies tackled this same problem through the installation of various forms of totalitarianism. Americans shook their heads wondering how such things could happen, unmindful that they, too, were not averse to the changes of anarchy and that the Depression led to much speculation on just how the future should be organized. Davis handles all of this with the depth of a philosopher and the patience of the researcher to demonstrate how, though lacking in deep intellectuality, Roosevelt, through sheer force of will, the exercise of the right temperament, and political genius enabled the government to bring control to the broken economy while keeping an eye open to ensure that the bureaucracy did not usurp its authority, In the midst of this, Davis manages to tell of the miseries and of the strange found love of Eleanor in a most compassionate manner. The first in this series was a nominee for the National Book Award. The present offering is worthy of that and more.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1986
Publisher: Random House