ELEANOR ROOSEVELT AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT by Nancy Hoffman

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

Age Range: 10 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Arthurdale, West Virginia, is the site of an important social-engineering project initiated by Eleanor Roosevelt. Designed to improve the lives of coal miners and their families who were suffering from the economic effects of the Great Depression, the planned community included farms, homes, schools, shops, and medical facilities. The government bought the land with the understanding that the residents would homestead it and repay the loan after achieving a self-sustaining community. The community and others like it were to be models for eliminating poverty. Roosevelt’s pioneering effort in community-building offers an interesting commentary on how government support made a difference in people’s lives but could not resolve their economic or social problems. It was Roosevelt herself who entered peoples’ homes, engaged them in conversation, brought modern educational methods into the school, and made a lasting impression on the people she touched. Hoffman’s debut effort weaves the historical context of Arthurdale with a biographical approach to Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and personality. She attempts to capture and recreate the spirit of the times by quotations of former residents describing their lives in the town. However, the story never quite comes alive. The voices of the townspeople are not connected in a seamless narrative that pulls the reader into what should be a dynamic piece of historical writing. The biographical information is necessarily sketchy and sometimes superfluous. Black-and-white historical photos illustrate the text. Notes, bibliography, and an index are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-208-02504-9
Page count: 110pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001