Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Traitor to His Class

by H.W. Brands

The only reason I hesitate to say this is the best presidential biography I've read is because it's been so long since I've read some of the others and I don't trust my memory. Professor Brands has written a highly enjoyable book. He starts out recounting the events of Roosevelt's morning on December 7th 1941, intercut with vignettes from Pearl Harbor and the surrounding seas. In the process he mentions some of the things Roosevelt had done, giving a picture of what his presidency had accomplished and where it stood with the American people. The prologue ends with the opening words of Roosevelt's address to Congress on December 8th. Not that I needed it, but it made quite an appetizer for the full biography.

I ended up going through the book at a pretty good pace. Professor Brands painted an informative and engaging picture of Franklin Roosevelt and the events of his life. Of course, both Roosevelt and the current events of his life make fascinating subject matter. While the overall tone is positive, Brands doesn't hesitate to point out the points where Roosevelt erred or was less than honorable. I often ask myself, as I read through these presidential bios, if I would vote for the man I'm reading about. I can see myself having many reservations with Franklin Roosevelt. He was very much a politician, never hesitating to employ some spin or play to his audience. But his presidency had so much influence on the America I grew up in--what I think of as "normal"--I can't help but see myself casting my vote for him despite any reservations. In fact, I'd even be tempted to award the man, at least as presented in this biography, the title of America's greatest president to date. He had the character to lead the country through two of the biggest crises in our history and, for good or ill, accomplished an incredible amount during his long administration.

I may have to get a copy for my shelf.
LibraryThing link

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