An account of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882–1945) first few years in politics.
FDR began his career in the shadow of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s most famous politician. By TR’s death in 1919, FDR was a fairly prominent national figure and the 1920 Democratic candidate for vice president. This is where veteran historian Weintraub (Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941, 2011, etc.) ends this perceptive demi-biography of FDR’s political maturation under the eyes of two other great presidents. Barely related to Theodore (Eleanor was his niece), Franklin cashed in on his famous name but also worked hard in 1910 to win an upset victory and enter New York State’s legislature nearly 30 years after his namesake. He became popular among New York Democrats, and his defiance of Tammany Hall to support Woodrow Wilson in 1912 earned him appointment as assistant secretary of the Navy. Like TR, appointed to the same office in 1897, FDR took advantage of an easygoing boss to run the department with a pugnacious advocacy of naval expansion that made him a beloved figure in the service until the end of his life. The book is largely an account of his activities during eight years as an energetic member of the Woodrow Wilson administration, during which he refined the skills and met the men (and a few women) who figured in his own presidency. Weintraub does not ignore an unhappy Eleanor, rarely at his side, harassed with caring for six children and several large households and already suspicious of his wandering eye. Her political career did not blossom until the children were grown and FDR was in a wheelchair.
A lively, insightful account of FDR’s early years.