A journalist and the CEO of an education advisory company unite to tell the story of the famous first cousins who occupied very different positions on the continuum of political belief.
Former Newsweek and Budget Travel deputy editor Peyser and School Choice International CEO Dwyer have quite a story to tell, one that drips with the intrigue of political power and the venom of personal jealousy, copious tears, regret, loss and betrayal. The more famous of the Roosevelt cousins (now and then) is, if course, Eleanor (1884-1962), who married FDR, tolerated his various romantic liaisons, helped with the treatment of his polio and outlived him to become a liberal icon. Alice (1884-1980), a daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, was friendly and affectionate with Eleanor early on, but they both flirted with Franklin, and the more attractive Alice did not take the loss lightly. Though she married Nick Longworth, Alice remained as sexually frisky, and otherwise mischievous, as a libidinous teen, engaging in multiple affairs over the years. Alice also was “ever the guttersnipe,” write the authors, who seem sometimes uncertain of their ultimate opinion of her: Was she a jerk? An opportunist? A happy hedonist? When FDR began his rise, Alice was not aboard. She planted herself firmly on the other side, as a moderately popular newspaper columnist and a highly quotable critic. (Readers might imagine an Ann Coulter with more self-restraint.) The authors’ admiration for Eleanor is patent, and they fully chronicle her human rights advocacy, her tireless travel to experience the lives of others, her prodding of FDR to do something about civil rights and her own popularity (far beyond Alice’s) as a newspaper columnist. The authors, understandably, have occasional trouble shoving aside the looming men to let us see the women.
An entertaining retelling of a forgotten story, written for political junkies who enjoy the naughty and the nice.