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Winner of the Pulitzer for History, No Ordinary Time is a chronicle of one of the most vibrant & revolutionary periods in US history. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin weaves together a number of story lines—the Roosevelt’s marriage & partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, & FDR’s White House & its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Good Winner of the Pulitzer for History, No Ordinary Time is a chronicle of one of the most vibrant & revolutionary periods in US history. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin weaves together a number of story lines—the Roosevelt’s marriage & partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, & FDR’s White House & its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin melds these into an intimate portrait of Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt & of the time during which a new, modern America was born.


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Winner of the Pulitzer for History, No Ordinary Time is a chronicle of one of the most vibrant & revolutionary periods in US history. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin weaves together a number of story lines—the Roosevelt’s marriage & partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, & FDR’s White House & its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Good Winner of the Pulitzer for History, No Ordinary Time is a chronicle of one of the most vibrant & revolutionary periods in US history. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin weaves together a number of story lines—the Roosevelt’s marriage & partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, & FDR’s White House & its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin melds these into an intimate portrait of Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt & of the time during which a new, modern America was born.

30 review for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time is an unusual World War II book. There are no descriptions of clashing armies, no in-depth armchair analyses of battlefield strategies, no biographical sketches of medal-bedecked generals moving their men like so many pawns. This is World War II as viewed from the American home front, and specifically through the eyes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. No Ordinary Time begins in 1940, as Nazi Germany invades France, Luxembourg, and the Low Countries (endin Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time is an unusual World War II book. There are no descriptions of clashing armies, no in-depth armchair analyses of battlefield strategies, no biographical sketches of medal-bedecked generals moving their men like so many pawns. This is World War II as viewed from the American home front, and specifically through the eyes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. No Ordinary Time begins in 1940, as Nazi Germany invades France, Luxembourg, and the Low Countries (ending the so-called Sitzkrieg, the period of inactivity following Great Britain’s and France’s declarations of war against the Third Reich). It ends in 1945, with the death of President Roosevelt. The events in between – spoiler alert! – are momentous. Some of the ground covered is standard for most World War II histories. There is Roosevelt’s struggle with the America First isolationist faction, the initiation of a peace time draft, and the famous Lend-Lease bill that turned the United States into the “Arsenal of Democracy.” Other topics, though, generally don’t receive nearly enough attention. Exhibit A is Goodwin’s treatment of race and racism in 1940s America. Black contributions to World War II are typically relegated to brief mentions of the (admittedly illustrious) Tuskegee Airmen. What gets ignored is America’s still-segregated Army, its still-segregated Navy, and the deplorable domestic treatment of blacks, including black munitions workers. [D]iscrimination in the mushrooming defense industry continued unabated. All over the country, new war plants were refusing to hire blacks. “Negroes will considered only as janitors,” the general manager of North American Aviation publicly asserted. “It is the company policy not to employ them as mechanics and aircraft workers.” In Kansas City, Standard Steel told the Urban League: “We have not had a Negro working in 25 years and do not plan to start now.” And from Vultee Air in California a blanket statement was issued: “It is not the policy of this company to employ other than the Caucasian race.” Goodwin devotes several large sections of her book to this oft-overlooked reality. The reality that America’s treatment of blacks (segregated facilities, lynching, suppressed votes, suppressed juries) bore uncomfortable similarities to Hitler’s Germany.* I’ve definitely become more sensitive to the elision of wartime black experiences (having recently read Richard Slotkin’s Lost Battalions, about the World War I travails of the black community) so I appreciated Goodwin’s thorough dedication to the topic. *It bears mentioning that Hitler drew this analogy himself. As did Goebbels. Accordingly, I suggest this is an exception to Godwin’s Law and its corollaries: If Hitler himself says you are like Hitler, there is no violation. This 600-page volume covers a wide array of subjects. In many ways, it is a sweeping look at life during war, but away from war. But at its heart, No Ordinary Time is quite intimate. In a very real way, it is a household drama, starring Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and a rotating cast of boarders. No matter what is going on in the world, everything that Goodwin writes about comes back to the couple living in the White House. And that’s okay. Having finished No Ordinary Time, I’m hard-pressed to think up a more fascinating, twisted, and compellingly dysfunctional (yet functioning) administration. FDR’s White House is unbelievable. The shenanigans that took place during his four terms (12 years) make John Kennedy’s sex-filled fake-Camelot look like a Family Circus cartoon. Among the lodgers in the People’s House were Missy LeHand, the President’s personal secretary and possible mistress, and Lorena Hickok, a one-time journalist in love with Eleanor. (It is unlikely that Eleanor, who was admittedly closed-off in matters of the heart, ever consummated a relationship with Hickok). Goodwin meticulously documents the extracurricular drama (aided and abetted by a press corps with far more discretion than their modern-day counterparts), and makes good use of the White House logs to track the comings and goings of visitors. (She also notes, for those who were wondering – I include myself – that FDR’s polio did not cause a lack of sexual function). Among other things, this book is a portrait of a marriage: an oddly paired, emotionally destructive, unfathombaly complex union. Clearly, FDR needed outlets – mental, if not physical – that Eleanor could not provide. Likewise, Eleanor needed support and attention that she never received from her husband. Perhaps, both of them would have been happier had they never met. Eleanor certainly would have been. She knew of her husband’s affair with Lucy Mercer, probably suspected an affair with Missy LeHand, and had to watch him flirt with Martha, the crown princess of Norway. She also had to endure FDR’s carelessness, his tactlessness, and his occasional casual cruelty. FDR is, by any metric, one of our greatest and most transformational presidents. He was also sort of a prick. Yet, Goodwin persuasively argues that – emotional incompatibility aside – they made a formidable political team. FDR dedicated himself to winning the war, to the extent that he was willing to bargain away many of his New Deal accomplishments to that end. He focused on the global picture, the strategy, and the mobilization. He was single-minded in his dedication to Axis destruction. Eleanor provided the boots on the ground, both literally and figuratively. She traveled the country tirelessly, meeting with constituents, providing the personal touch. She met with interest groups and soothed ruffled feathers. She fought to protect the New Deal legacy, and also to broaden the umbrella to include the black community. If Eleanor had turned down FDR’s proposal of marriage, life might have been easier; at the same time, and to his credit, FDR allowed her to achieve greatness in her own right. (Goodwin’s portrait of Eleanor by itself makes No Ordinary Time a worthwhile read. Her views were amazingly modern and inclusive, and she had the guts to defend them at a time when many people didn't want to hear any opinion from a woman). For a long time, I avoided Goodwin’s books. I only knew her from Meet the Press, where she’d sometimes appear to deliver a facile comparison between current and historical events. I figured if her books were as broad as her sound bites, I’d be better off avoiding them. Team of Rivals proved I am an idiot for thinking this. Now I have begun working my way through her bibliography. No Ordinary Time is minutely researched, beautifully written, and tells a compelling story that combines elements of world-historical import with scenes from the weirdest soap opera ever conceived. It is part history, part biography, part TMZ, and always engaging.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    A truly memorable book. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a fine writer who manages to transform seemingly insignificant snippets of data into compelling reading. This volume covers the period from May, 1939 to April, 1945 and focuses on what was going on in the U.S. through the actions and writings of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and others close to them. It truly deserves its Pulitzer Prize and the four or more other awards and accolades it garnered. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about the A truly memorable book. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a fine writer who manages to transform seemingly insignificant snippets of data into compelling reading. This volume covers the period from May, 1939 to April, 1945 and focuses on what was going on in the U.S. through the actions and writings of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and others close to them. It truly deserves its Pulitzer Prize and the four or more other awards and accolades it garnered. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about the period the book covers but I discovered a ton of new information. Goodwin, also, not only relates the facts, she is not afraid to state what she sees as the implications of what has happened. A prime example is the beginning of the integration of Negroes into the work force at all skill levels. There are many others. Her deft handling of the complicated relationship that Eleanor and FDR had allows the reader to see its many layers without being hit over the head with "juicy" tidbits. Goodwin never loses focus, throughout, while still managing to keep the reader chronologically oriented to events outside the President and his wife's immediate concerns. I was appreciative of how well Goodwin tied up loose ends in the last chapter, "A New Country Is Being Born" and the short "Afterword". It really gives the reader a sense of closure while hinting at what will follow after FDR's death. This book comes as close as possible to the ideal of a factual history being as interesting to read as a novel.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I'm reminded of the saying, "If you want to learn something, read non-fiction." I am learning the answers to questions I didn't know I had. "Exactly how did the internment of the Japanese get started? When were land mines invented? What was Eleanor Roosevelt really like?" It was around this time that Executive Order 8802 came about, with the wording we are all so used to: discrimination is banned on grounds of "race, color, creed, or national origin." The national origin part was added because t I'm reminded of the saying, "If you want to learn something, read non-fiction." I am learning the answers to questions I didn't know I had. "Exactly how did the internment of the Japanese get started? When were land mines invented? What was Eleanor Roosevelt really like?" It was around this time that Executive Order 8802 came about, with the wording we are all so used to: discrimination is banned on grounds of "race, color, creed, or national origin." The national origin part was added because the Poles were having some trouble in Buffalo. So - read this book and learn more about the country and about WWII. The book isn't a page-turner but it is readable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2016... Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II" was published in 1994 and won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995. Goodwin is an author and presidential historian who has written about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, LBJ, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. This 636 page book is meticulously researched, fact-filled and essentially a hybrid literary construct: it is part history text and pa https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2016... Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II" was published in 1994 and won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995. Goodwin is an author and presidential historian who has written about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, LBJ, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. This 636 page book is meticulously researched, fact-filled and essentially a hybrid literary construct: it is part history text and part dual-biography (of FDR and his wife Eleanor). Goodwin’s narrative is sometimes gossipy but more often is sober and serious. However, this book is not comprehensive in scope - it is focused on the last five years of the Roosevelt presidency (1940 through 1945). With few exceptions “No Ordinary Time” proceeds chronologically. But Goodwin occasionally breaks the timeline to inject historical context which would otherwise fall outside the book’s scope (such as the Roosevelts' early upbringings, FDR's battle with polio and the marital rift created by Franklin's affair with Lucy Mercer). As its title suggests, Goodwin’s book is far more focused on the "home front" than with global affairs. Readers seeking a deep appreciation for the ebb and flow of World War II will be disappointed. Instead, Goodwin conveys history almost exclusively from the perspective of the First Couple and their family, friends and colleagues who lived in the White House during these weighty years. On balance, Eleanor and Franklin would probably appreciate Goodwin’s portrayals of their respective characters and legacies. FDR is depicted as an extraordinarily intuitive and consequential politician…but a flawed husband and friend. Eleanor often lacks self-confidence and a sense of self-worth but possesses remarkable devotion to a wide range of important progressive causes. As its highest calling, Goodwin’s book seems designed to demonstrate both the complexity and the value inherent in their unique partnership. But Goodwin’s perspective - viewed through the lens of this compelling couple - comes at the expense of a deeper examination of Franklin’s political philosophies and legislative priorities, a broader understanding of the war itself and a more vibrant description of the president’s most important political relationships (such as his fascinating relationship with Winston Churchill). By virtue of the book’s relatively narrow chronological focus the reader misses some of the fundamentals – and many of the nuances – of FDR’s early life up through his New Deal agenda. In addition, the book’s structure and style and flow creates the frequent impression of the reader being rigidly walked through the First Couple’s daily schedules without concern for the relative importance of individual moments. Overall, though, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “No Ordinary Time” is a compelling review of one of the most compelling and important First Couples in our nation’s history. It is not a consistently easy, colorful or comprehensive treatment of FDR's life. But most fans of Franklin or Eleanor Roosevelt will find this book little short of outstanding. Overall rating: 4¼ stars

  5. 4 out of 5

    Graham Shelby

    I took a long time reading this book because it was like time travel, like seeing into the past. NO ORDINARY TIME is a marvelously researched and rendered account of perhaps the most important and influential marriage in American history. Franklin and Eleanor's relationship is fascinating, so complicated and extraordinary, and yet so human, and in its own way, familiar. Eleanor, to her eternal credit and the benefit of our country, was a tireless champion for women and African-Americans and the I took a long time reading this book because it was like time travel, like seeing into the past. NO ORDINARY TIME is a marvelously researched and rendered account of perhaps the most important and influential marriage in American history. Franklin and Eleanor's relationship is fascinating, so complicated and extraordinary, and yet so human, and in its own way, familiar. Eleanor, to her eternal credit and the benefit of our country, was a tireless champion for women and African-Americans and the poor. Franklin was as well, to a lesser degree, but his calculus was much more complicated than hers. The book features story after story of people experiencing one kind of social injustice or another and somehow getting word directly or indirectly to Eleanor, who would be outraged. And at that precise moment, Franklin is having cocktails with his friends (this was an important part of his process for managing the work stress caused by, you know, the Depression and World War II). Then Eleanor, in high dudgeon, comes in, completely focused on some poor person's plight and totally buzzkills the party. Franklin's annoyed. They argue. Often (though not always) he agrees to take some action. Ultimately, he appreciates her awareness of what's happening in the country, and her ability to go places he couldn't really go, both because he was president and because of his polio. Goodwin's writing is marvelously efficient, thorough and insightful. Her eye for detail and organization is just about perfect. She admires and empathizes with Franklin, Eleanor and the people around them, but she also sees their flaws and holds them accountable for their mistakes and misjudgments, while also contextualizing them. She details, for example, Franklin's decision to listen to the voices in his cabinet and military who called for interning Japanese-Americans as perhaps the most glaring example. (That policy not only made fishwrap of the Constitution, it went against his own values.) I savored this book, took the last pages slowly because I didn't want it to end, didn't want Franklin to die, suddenly, while visiting his mistress. But he did. And Eleanor found that out, and had to live with that as part of her memory of him. There's a wonderful scene at the end of the book where Eleanor is taking Bess Truman on a tour of the White House. Eleanor doesn't seem to notice that the new first lady is quietly appalled that the place is in such disrepair. Keeping up the president's residence is apparently part of the first lady's traditional responsibilities, but between traveling, writing a daily newspaper column, and advocating for Americans who had no one else of her stature or influence on their side, Eleanor Roosevelt never quite found the time to keep house, even the White House.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Markus Molina

    Remind me to never read a book this big in the middle of a busy school semester! Throughout the book, I found myself slightly disappointed by FDR. He isn't lovable or heroic and there are times that I really question his integrity, especially in his relationships and his resistance to stepping down after his first two terms. So although the book is thorough and full of information and anecdotes, and although there are lots of things to point to that he did well, I find I cannot give it a higher r Remind me to never read a book this big in the middle of a busy school semester! Throughout the book, I found myself slightly disappointed by FDR. He isn't lovable or heroic and there are times that I really question his integrity, especially in his relationships and his resistance to stepping down after his first two terms. So although the book is thorough and full of information and anecdotes, and although there are lots of things to point to that he did well, I find I cannot give it a higher rating, because I could never really get behind FDR like I could when I read about Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, or Lincoln. On the other hand, I was very surprised at how important and interesting Eleanor Roosevelt was. What a lady! Ahead of her time for sure! With what she did to progress civil rights for black people and woman and workers, wow woo wee wuh! She was a tremendous person and I think without her, FDR would've just been some dude. I can't believe that she isn't taught about more in schools all over. She's just as important to history as FDR is, but I didn't hear about her until college. STEP IT UP, AMERICA.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan O

    No Ordinary Time is a unique blend of biography and WWII history from the US perspective. Many biographies have been written about both Eleanor and Franklin, so as in Team of Rivals and The Bully Pulpit, Goodwin chose to take a different approach. She does an excellent job and pulls it off beautifully. The book covers primarily the years 1941 through 1945, the time that the United States is involved in WWII. However, she gives sufficient background information on both FDR and ER as well as the l No Ordinary Time is a unique blend of biography and WWII history from the US perspective. Many biographies have been written about both Eleanor and Franklin, so as in Team of Rivals and The Bully Pulpit, Goodwin chose to take a different approach. She does an excellent job and pulls it off beautifully. The book covers primarily the years 1941 through 1945, the time that the United States is involved in WWII. However, she gives sufficient background information on both FDR and ER as well as the lead up to the war that everything is put in perspective. Both of the Roosevelts are seen as wonderfully human with strengths and weaknesses and the contrast between Eleanor's idealism and Franklin's practical politics provide a sense of tension and a wonderful feel for what FDR faced as President trying to balance domestic concerns with the war effort. I did feel that Goodwin was a little more sympathetic to one than the other, but I'll leave that for you to decide. The Roosevelts had a unique marriage partnership that was rooted in events of the past. The two primary events are FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer and his polio attack, one of which pushed them apart and the other drew them together. Each of them had many people who they were close to and who supported them intimately and they are all mentioned here - Missy LeHand, Daisy Stuckley, Harry Hopkins, Louis Howe, Lorena Hickok, Joseph Lash etc. There are of course many others who were involved in the government and in their lives who are mentioned in addition to their grown children. Goodwin covers them all with just enough information to put them in place and show their connection to the Roosevelts. In spite of the many individuals mentioned and the complex domestic and war situations, I don't think anyone will be lost. Although it might leave you wanting to know more about different people or subjects. Goodwin's writing style is nice and the book is never boring. I highly recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I have been trying to clear my wish list of some books that have been there since the beginning of the year. A number on the list including this one I have kept postponing reading because they are so long. This book is about 40 hours. Goodwin sets out to tell the history of 1940 to 1945 through the lives of the Roosevelt’s and those who occupied the White House with them at a time when that building functioned more as a dormitory for famous personages than the President’s official residence. Gu I have been trying to clear my wish list of some books that have been there since the beginning of the year. A number on the list including this one I have kept postponing reading because they are so long. This book is about 40 hours. Goodwin sets out to tell the history of 1940 to 1945 through the lives of the Roosevelt’s and those who occupied the White House with them at a time when that building functioned more as a dormitory for famous personages than the President’s official residence. Guest included of course the Roosevelt’s daughter Ann and 4 sons, but Winston Churchill came and stayed for months at a time. Goodwin introduces us to a guest that has had less attention paid to her by historians the exiled Princess Martha of Norway. Princess Martha was born in Stockholm the daughter of Prince Carl of Sweden and Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. She married her cousin Crown Prince Olav of Norway in Oslo Cathedral on 21 March 1929; it was the first Royal Wedding in Norway in 340 years. When the Nazi overran Norway the Royal family first fled to Sweden then to England. Princess Martha and her three children were invited to come to the United States by Franklin and Eleanor for safety for the duration of the War. The Norwegian Americans helped host her. Prince Olav stayed most often in London helping with the War effort. Prince Olav’s mother was Princess Maud of Wales and father was King Haakon VII of Norway. The author did a prodigious amount of research to write this book and then she had the ability to convert all that abundance of information into a very readable story. No previous biography of the Roosevelt’s has given so complete a picture of how the private lives and political lives intersect uniquely for the Roosevelt’s. Goodwin portrays the history of WWII and so fully documents the domestic life of the nation during the international crisis. Narrating the events of the war from the vantage point of the White House, Goodwin makes it richly evident; Eleanor was a home front counterpart to Winston Churchill, a partner and provocateur whose relationship with FDR was rarely smooth and often frankly confrontational. Eleanor was her husband’s political and social conscience. Goodwin shows in stunning detail that Eleanor was even more; she was his astute political partner, lobbyist and goad. Goodwin depicts how a savvy, relentlessly involved First Lady incalculably enriched and shaped the political and social agenda of the Nation. The way Goodwin has pulled her myriad facts together serves to reinforce one’s sense of a monumental Presidency. It had its flaws, among which Goodwin numbers chiefly its failure to do more for the European Jews and its inability to stem the tide of hostility toward Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. This is a superb dual portrait of the 32nd President and his first lady. I read this as an audio book downloaded from Audible. Nelson Runger did a great job narrating the book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Fascinating, meticulously researched, well written, and unforgettable, it’s no wonder No Ordinary Time won the Pulitzer Prize for history, the Harold Washington Literary Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, the Ambassador Book Award, and The Washington Monthly Political Book Award! This remarkable book provides a close up account of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s years in the White House from 1940 to 1945. They were an extraordinary team. Franklin was an outstanding leader duri Fascinating, meticulously researched, well written, and unforgettable, it’s no wonder No Ordinary Time won the Pulitzer Prize for history, the Harold Washington Literary Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, the Ambassador Book Award, and The Washington Monthly Political Book Award! This remarkable book provides a close up account of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s years in the White House from 1940 to 1945. They were an extraordinary team. Franklin was an outstanding leader during World War II with his keen understanding of foreign policy while Eleanor provided insight into the concerns and issues on the homefront. Each of them were not without flaws, but their contributions to the country were profound. However, the book covers much more than just the political climate as the publisher’s brief annotation reads: “No Ordinary Time is a monumental work, a brilliantly conceived chronicle of one of the most vibrant and revolutionary periods in the history of the United States. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin masterfully weaves together a striking number of story lines—Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage and remarkable partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, and FDR’s White House and its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin effectively melds these details and stories into an unforgettable and intimate portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and of the time during which a new, modern America was born.” I cannot say enough good things about this book. Anyone interested in United States history would enjoy this book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Sciuto

    Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front In World War II" is no ordinary book. In fact, it is great... And to drive the point, even further, let me repeat that it is GREAT. Mrs. Goodwin is an American treasure, her contributions as a historian are extraordinary. Whether she is dissecting Lincoln's Presidency in "Team of Rivals" or Teddy Roosevelt's friendship and rivalry with President Taft in "The Bully Pulpit" or her heartwarming tribute to baseba Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front In World War II" is no ordinary book. In fact, it is great... And to drive the point, even further, let me repeat that it is GREAT. Mrs. Goodwin is an American treasure, her contributions as a historian are extraordinary. Whether she is dissecting Lincoln's Presidency in "Team of Rivals" or Teddy Roosevelt's friendship and rivalry with President Taft in "The Bully Pulpit" or her heartwarming tribute to baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers in "Wait Till Next Year" or her amazing, detailed, and poignant portrait of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the above reviewed book, one is always left breathless and in awe of her writing and certainly more educated and studious about our history and the amazing people who have contributed to our greatness as a country. "No Ordinary Time" is a historical look at President Roosevelt's accomplishments as a leader before the war, during the Great Depression, and throughout the war as he oversaw the greatest military and industrial build up in the history of the world. It is hard to imagine any other President in the history of the 20th century who could have mustered and guided our country and its citizens and the world anymore masterful than this extraordinary, yet flawed, individual. It is not a far cry, and Mrs. Goodwin alludes to this in her book, to say that President Franklin Roosevelt is chiefly responsible for the freedom enjoyed today in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the world. That being said, if one is looking for an unknown hero to emulate one should look no further than Eleanor Roosevelt. During this extraordinary and difficult time, she led the charge against racial discrimination in the military, in the work force, and against the living conditions that black Americans were forced to survive under. Her pressure on the President, his cabinet, the military and labor was one of the chief reasons for desegregation in the military, work force, and urban housing. (The Civil War might have ended slavery, but it did not free black Americans) She also championed women's rights in the work force, fought against the Japanese internment during the war, helped to set up the first child care centers for the millions of American women who entered the workforce during this period, and forced the President to include women in the politics of the time and that is just a few of the things this amazing and tireless woman did for our country and citizens... At no financial cost to the American public. Besides, the wonderful portraits of these two incredible individuals, Mrs. Goodwin skillfully integrates the complicated relationships the President and his wife had with Churchhill, Stalin, their children, their confidants and everyday American citizens. Truly an amazing book and no surprise the winner of the The Pulitzer Prize.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is one of those books you mourn the ending of. What a phenomenal read. This book is both a biographical look at Franklin and Eleanor's relationship and history framed by the unique marriage that was the Roosevelts. It was fascinating to delve a bit deeper in Franklin's handling of WWII, his manipulating of politics by waiting for the right timing in public opinion, his relationship with Churchill, building the United Nations, and the far reaching effects of the Yalta Conference. People will This is one of those books you mourn the ending of. What a phenomenal read. This book is both a biographical look at Franklin and Eleanor's relationship and history framed by the unique marriage that was the Roosevelts. It was fascinating to delve a bit deeper in Franklin's handling of WWII, his manipulating of politics by waiting for the right timing in public opinion, his relationship with Churchill, building the United Nations, and the far reaching effects of the Yalta Conference. People will long debate the merits and pitfalls of that meeting. What a tragedy he didn't live to see the conclusions of his efforts. More at the core of the book was Franklin and Eleanor's marriage. It's common knowledge that Franklin had an affair with Lucy Mercer early in their life. The relationship never disappeared even after Lucy married Rutherford and was widowed. She was with him the day he died. There is also speculation about the level of involvement with his secretary Missy Lehand and Princess Martha of Norway among others. I tend to think these were more on an intellectual/spiritual/emotional level than a physical one. The things missing to a degree in his relationship with Eleanor. Franklin obviously adored and appreciated the women in his life. But it is also abundantly clear that it didn't lessen his love, affection, respect and admiration for Eleanor. There is no way to put adequate words to what a remarkable woman she was. Certainly there was some distance between them. They were two very different people. Eleanor was a driven woman, especially when it came to issues of social justice. Could it be there was a level of insecurity that was behind her behavior? Franklin's mother's strong personality undoubtedly cast a shadow over her. That drive however was behind her many contributions to this country and her husband's presidency. Neither would be who they were, nor have accomplished the myriad of change without the influences of the other. They were far more dependent upon each other than either seemed to realize. I continue to be impressed by the magnitude of contributions she made in the beginnings of women's rights, racial equality and the labor movement among other things. Hands down - a great book. No wonder this is a Pulitzer prize winner.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carole Sorensen

    Amazing personal look into the Roosevelt’s before and during a difficult time in our history. I cannot believe the research that went into this book .

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    I read this book about the Roosevelts and the American homefront in WWII for the Book for All Seasons challenge to read a book about a tragic event. I listened to the audiobook while reading along with my own paperback copy of the book. Since this massive, brilliantly written Pulitzer Prize-winning history covers the entire period of America’s time in World War II, it covers a huge amount of ground. Rather than trying to write a comprehensive, lengthy review, I’ll point out some of the things I I read this book about the Roosevelts and the American homefront in WWII for the Book for All Seasons challenge to read a book about a tragic event. I listened to the audiobook while reading along with my own paperback copy of the book. Since this massive, brilliantly written Pulitzer Prize-winning history covers the entire period of America’s time in World War II, it covers a huge amount of ground. Rather than trying to write a comprehensive, lengthy review, I’ll point out some of the things I learned in this book, or things that surprised me: 1. The most overwhelming, and frankly disheartening thing to me, was how far-sighted and dedicated Eleanor was about race relations and women in the workplace, and how, so many decades later, the struggles STILL continue. Gains were certainly made for the sake of the war effort, largely because Eleanor Roosevelt worked, pushed, nudged, and twisted arms – her husband’s and others - to improve the lot of working women and African-Americans, and did make some headway, but once the war was over, both groups were expected to return to their previous restricted roles in American society. It would be 20 years before the Civil Rights Act was passed, and women, who had risen to the occasion and entered the workforce to make the war machine work when men went off to war, were fired before the war was even over, even though as the author points out, some women were now widows and the sole breadwinners for their families. I tried to be encouraged and inspired, but couldn’t help wondering how the Roosevelts would feel if they could see how far we still have to go in 2018! 2. The monumental task FDR faced in trying to prepare a largely rural, often unfit and poor, isolationist population for the possibility of war, while also bringing together the business, industrial and labor interests to develop the armaments to outfit a woefully unprepared military. I know FDR had a reputation as a master politician, but his charisma, overwhelming confidence and force of personality were astonishing in pulling off what seemed an impossible task. Talk about herding cats! 3. The sheer complexity of FDR and Eleanor’s relationship; I knew there had been infidelity on FDR’s part, and I knew that there had been rumors about Eleanor possibly having a lesbian relationship, but there was so much more between the two of them. From Eleanor’s lifelong insecurities, to Franklin’s need for adoring female companionship, and the constant, intrusive presence of his possessive, adoring mother, there was just a great deal going on between these two. Despite the complications and dysfunction, they obviously complemented each other tremendously, and their hard-working partnership made for an incredibly dynamic, loving and powerful marriage. It was the strength of their collective gifts and will that got America through a remarkably difficult time on the homefront, and in the process managed to win a world war, maintain the societal gains they had ushered in with the New Deal, and reshape the country into the modern, urban nation it became in the postwar period. An amazing book about an amazing pair during an amazing time of crisis.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    An excellent, very well researched and written account of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the years leading up to WWII and follows through to their deaths. Goodwin concentrates on life in the US during these years, touching on subjects like civil rights, Japanese internment, worker's rights, and women in the workplace. While the book was dense, it was very readable. It was exhaustive and entertaining. It is also a very raw and personal look into the personal lives of the Roosevelts. Franklin w An excellent, very well researched and written account of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the years leading up to WWII and follows through to their deaths. Goodwin concentrates on life in the US during these years, touching on subjects like civil rights, Japanese internment, worker's rights, and women in the workplace. While the book was dense, it was very readable. It was exhaustive and entertaining. It is also a very raw and personal look into the personal lives of the Roosevelts. Franklin was a proud and concerned President who spent over 3 terms in office working toward winning the war through to his dying day. Eleanor was a hardworking advocate of the people working toward human rights at home and throughout the world. Although they had much love for each other, they were separate, individual people whose work seemed to compliment each other. Yet they were not without their flaws and Goodwin captured warts and all. Although it was a heavy read, it was very engaging. I feel like I have had a very personal peek into the lives of Franklin and Eleanor.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Max

    No Ordinary Time provides an intimate view of Franklin and Eleanor’s unique relationship, one more of a working partnership than a traditional marriage. Written in a somewhat gossipy style, at times resembling a society page column with its homey details, Goodwin digs deep into the character of the Roosevelt’s. Focusing on the rights of minorities, women and workers, she chronicles the dramatic social changes of the period. Goodwin presents the attitudes and situations of people in 1940, which w No Ordinary Time provides an intimate view of Franklin and Eleanor’s unique relationship, one more of a working partnership than a traditional marriage. Written in a somewhat gossipy style, at times resembling a society page column with its homey details, Goodwin digs deep into the character of the Roosevelt’s. Focusing on the rights of minorities, women and workers, she chronicles the dramatic social changes of the period. Goodwin presents the attitudes and situations of people in 1940, which were far different from today. First, racism and discrimination were widely practiced and accepted; Jews were considered a devious race and blacks an incapable one. Woman were believed to be only suited for household chores and raising children. After Pearl Harbor anyone of Japanese descent was looked upon as the enemy. Second, to earn a decent living or live in a decent home was not considered a right and most people had neither. Third, isolationism was strong with no concept of America’s international responsibility. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the horrors the Axis powers were inflicting on the world might as well have taken place on a different planet. Few recognized the threat Germany and Japan would present to the U. S. if they succeeded. Eleanor cared deeply about the social problems, her husband about the threat from abroad, and together they addressed economic inequality. Goodwin gives us some revealing statistics. Poverty in the U. S. in 1940 was widespread and living conditions for most were deplorable. 31% of homes did not have running water. 32% did not have an indoor toilet. 58% did not have central heat. Only 40% of adults had more than an 8th grade education. America’s military was ill prepared in 1940. The U. S. army ranked 18th in the world behind the Netherlands, which fell quickly to Germany. The U. S. could barely field 3 divisions while Germany had 136 well equipped divisions. The U. S. had 400 combat planes and 450 tanks, enough to last perhaps a day in the highly mechanized European war. The U. S. army still placed armor under the cavalry whose advocates still felt the horse more dependable than the machine. But Goodwin’s emphasis is the personal lives of the Roosevelt’s and their impact on social change, not the war. Eleanor is shaped by a difficult childhood with an alcoholic father and a beautiful mother who overcompensates for Eleanor’s plainness. Both parents die while Eleanor is young. Her grandmother sends Eleanor to boarding school in London in 1899 where the 70 year old Mme Souvestre had a profound influence in developing Eleanor’s confidence. Franklin’s father was born two years before Mme Souvestre in 1828 during the John Quincy Adams administration. It’s amazing to consider that the President who authorized the development of the atom bomb, first detonated a few months following FDR’s death, was raised by a father born before the electric telegraph or even steam railroads operated in America. He and Eleanor faced a far different world than that of their parents and mentors, yet miraculously they were up to the task. Two major events shaped Franklin and Eleanor and their relationship. First was Franklin’s affair with Eleanor’s assistant, Lucy Mercer which ended any notion of traditional marriage and hurt Eleanor deeply but freed her to be her own person and to work on the social issues she cared so much about. The damaged relationship also helped mature Franklin, but it was Franklin’s crippling polio that gave him the confidence to work through difficulty with calm. Adversity created strength for both of them. Eleanor became an outspoken advocate for civil rights. She constantly pressed FDR to take action, but he was reluctant since it was politically risky. Only when threatened by a 100,000 man march on Washington by black leaders did FDR do anything. However, it was largely the war itself that created the first opportunity for blacks to work alongside whites with the armed forces haltingly taking the first steps. But one is left wondering without Eleanor’s advocacy how much would have changed. FDR gave in to her on race issues because black’s voted, at least in the north. Eleanor was also a huge advocate for women’s rights in the workplace and a critic of Japanese interment, an issue FDR rolled over on. She also stood up for helping European refugees including the desperate Jews, but FDR refused to help because of politics. After all, these people had no votes. In short, Eleanor always put her conscience ahead of politics or popularity. FDR seemed to want to do the right thing but always put politics first. Goodwin ascribed to Eleanor’s influence everything liberal in the President’s agenda. The President didn’t generate his own ideas in the areas of social democracy but rather simply reformulated hers based on political acceptance. Eleanor was a workaholic crusader. The President is presented as a crafty politician, a charmer with reassuring mannerisms and gifted speaker who sized people up quickly and accurately, listened well and absorbed everything but kept his real thoughts to himself. Goodwin even assumes Eleanor’s influence on FDR’s famous Four Freedom’s speech, “Eleanor never claimed credit for anything her husband did or said, and there is no way of tracing the direct connection between Eleanor’s ruminations about democracy and Franklin’s concept of four freedoms, but the link seems obvious.” FDR’s three year affair from 1915-18 with Eleanor’s assistant, Lucy Page Mercer, was a consequence of a troubled relationship. The gregarious FDR enjoyed the nonsense and banter at lighthearted get-togethers while Eleanor, always serious, felt she didn’t belong to FDR’s crowd. When Franklin reached out to Eleanor in 1942 to have a more normal marriage she rejected him. She couldn’t forget. FDR continued to turn to other woman for the feminine companionship he needed. Goodwin presents the strong influence of women on FDR, his self-centered mother Sara, his work partner Eleanor, his close companion and de facto wife Missy LeHand, his flirty companion Princess Martha, his compliant daughter Anna and of course, his lover Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd. The one male close to FDR was his confidant and right hand man Harry Hopkins. Yet for all his charm, FDR could quickly forget those he was closest too. When Missy LeHand, who the President relied on for years and spent endless intimate hours with, had a debilitating stroke, Eliot Janeway notes, “Roosevelt had absolutely no moral reaction to Missy’s tragedy. It seemed only that he resented her for getting sick and leaving him in the lurch. This was proof that he had ceased to be a person; he was simply the president. If something was good for him as president, it was good; if it had no function for him as president, it didn’t exist.” However Roosevelt did make financial arrangements to provide Missy medical care in the event of his death. Noting a similar lack of concern when FDR’s devoted friend Louis Howe died, Harold Ickes also observed, “despite his pleasant and friendly personality, he is cold as ice inside.” On the return trip from the Yalta conference Harry Hopkins became very ill and stayed behind. “Roosevelt was angered by Hopkins’ decision to leave, ‘Why did he have to get sick on me,’ he muttered.” “All that Roosevelt could see was that Hopkins was leaving him, as Missy had left him before, and Louis Howe before that.” Hopkins, Howe and Missy LeHand were the three people Roosevelt most trusted and who controlled access to him during his presidency. It says something dark about Roosevelt’s character that when each fell sick or died that he was angry at them for deserting him. Goodwin’s portraits lead us to the heart of Franklin and Eleanor’s relationship. “After initially valuing Franklin for his confidence, charm and sociability, qualities that stood in contrast to her own insecurity and shyness, Eleanor had come to see these traits as shallow and duplicitous. After being drawn to Eleanor’s sincerity, honesty and high principles, Franklin had redefined these same attributes as stiffness and inflexibility. “’She bothered him because she had integrity,’ Anna Rosenberg observed.” “’You couldn’t find,’ Anna Boettiger mused, ‘two such different people as mother and father’” FDR was a great president who indefatigably and skillfully guided the American people through a depression and world war to a bright future. For the first time blacks were working alongside whites and woman alongside men on a significant scale. The war years were the only period in American history where there was a downward distribution of wealth. Growing income inequality is a hot topic today, but with this one exception it has always been that way. The Axis powers were soundly defeated and the U. S. became the most powerful nation on earth giving rise to the military-industrial complex that would dominate the rest of the century. While one of our most effective presidents, FDR’s character left much to be desired. Perhaps most disturbing to me was FDR’s using his and Eleanor’s daughter, Anna, to arrange visits for his lover, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, to the White House and the Little White House in Warm Springs. Bad enough to see this relationship wrecker on the sly and risk grievously hurting Eleanor again, but to make their daughter a party to the deception is callous beyond belief. Lucy was with FDR when he died and of course the details of their relationship came out including Anna’s involvement. Eleanor was decimated. Before closing his casket for the last time, Eleanor took off her gold band and placed it in FDR’s hand to take with him. That says it all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Through No Ordinary Time, I loved learning more about the U.S. home front during WWII and the impact FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt made on the nation as President and First Lady. WWII was such a catalytic time in our nation's history. When Hitler was invading much of Europe prior to U.S. engagement in the war, our military ranked 17th or 18th in the world as a result of an isolationist policy felt in Congress and throughout the nation. (Many Americans thought that the oceans dividing us from Europe Through No Ordinary Time, I loved learning more about the U.S. home front during WWII and the impact FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt made on the nation as President and First Lady. WWII was such a catalytic time in our nation's history. When Hitler was invading much of Europe prior to U.S. engagement in the war, our military ranked 17th or 18th in the world as a result of an isolationist policy felt in Congress and throughout the nation. (Many Americans thought that the oceans dividing us from Europe and Asia protected us from engagement in the war.) However, when engagement in WWII proved necessary, the American people rallied to become the greatest industrial nation in the world. They created phenomenal numbers of airplanes, naval and cargo ships, weapons, and gear for soldiers in a war that would be won with machines. Because of our need of laborers in factories throughout the country, the war also became a time when the rights of African Americans and women were addressed as they were recruited at unprecedented levels to join the labor and war efforts. I loved learning about the lives of women who began working outside the home for the first time because they were so needed during the war. However, it was sad to learn that they were routinely laid off when the men returned simply because they were female. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a phenomenal job of writing this story, weaving in direct quotes from correspondence and people closely tied to the President and First Lady. I loved her analysis at the end of the book outlining FDR's much needed and insightful leadership and Eleanor's work promoting real democracy throughout America. However, despite all the good they accomplished, I had a hard time falling in love with FDR and Eleanor like I have with other biographical subjects (but it would take a longer review to go into why). Still, it's an excellent, well-written book about a critical time in our nation's history - very worthwhile reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    It doesn't see that long ago that I read this. But I haven't found a review in my Goodreads.com folder, so it must have been prior to my Goodreads.com membership era. I was reminded of the book because it is the featured review on my PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for today. Below is the review from the calendar: ____________ American heroes such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt can be so lionized that they cease to resemble living, fallible human beings. Doris Kearns Goodwin doesn’t make that mistake It doesn't see that long ago that I read this. But I haven't found a review in my Goodreads.com folder, so it must have been prior to my Goodreads.com membership era. I was reminded of the book because it is the featured review on my PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for today. Below is the review from the calendar: ____________ American heroes such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt can be so lionized that they cease to resemble living, fallible human beings. Doris Kearns Goodwin doesn’t make that mistake in this incisive portrait of an unlikely marriage conducted on the stage of world politics. The degree to which FDR was willing to compromise, and Eleanor most emphatically was not, is especially enlightening. NO ORDINARY TIME: FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: THE HOME FRONT IN WORLD WAR II , by Doris Kearns Goodwin (1994; Touchstone, 1995)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Excellent history of the Home Front during WWII. And an excellent story of the Roosevelts.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    I have never been a big history buff. Growing up I thought my lack of interest was because history is about learning dates and facts and I was more interested in understanding the relationships between things and why they are the way they are. A great professor in college showed me that history can be fascinating if approached with a view of understanding the relationships that caused events to unfold the way they did. I now enjoy history when presented in this way. I started to read Goodwin's Te I have never been a big history buff. Growing up I thought my lack of interest was because history is about learning dates and facts and I was more interested in understanding the relationships between things and why they are the way they are. A great professor in college showed me that history can be fascinating if approached with a view of understanding the relationships that caused events to unfold the way they did. I now enjoy history when presented in this way. I started to read Goodwin's Team of Rivals about Lincoln after seeing the film Lincoln. I found it to be very slow moving and more about the other three candidates who were running against Lincoln than about Lincoln himself. I was missing the relationship between the other candidates and Lincoln. I cannot say that Goodwin did not get around to developing those relationships, only that she did it so slowly as to lose my interest. I had her book about the Roosevelts on my reading list for some time. I noted that it had won a Pulitzer Prize and decided to give her another chance. I am so glad I did. This book is so different from Team of Rivals that I wonder what has changed. I found this book to move along at a good pace. It develops the relationships in Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's lives that contributed to their views and leadership styles. I also found the similarities between pre-WWII US and today striking. The conservatives and progressives were arguing about many of the same economic issues facing us today with little apparent room for compromise. It seems it took the attack on Pearl Harbor to unite the people of the US to work together. Another big take-away for me was that military historians agree that the US industrial might did more to win the war than the soldiers on the battlefields. This book shows that Franklin Roosevelt was key in leading the US to produce the weapons and supplies needed at a pace that most had thought was impossible. It is also clear that Eleanor played a large role in advancing civil rights for many groups that had fewer advantages than wealthy, white males.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    Goodwin has to be the best non-fiction writer I have ever read. This is the second book I have listened to of hers, and I am in awe of her talent for writing and telling a story. She takes subjects that have been written about thousands of times, and makes them gripping and new. In this book, Goodwin focuses on the American home front during WWII and some of the most visible, unique personalities who shaped the times, including, of course, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. Through her words, the reader Goodwin has to be the best non-fiction writer I have ever read. This is the second book I have listened to of hers, and I am in awe of her talent for writing and telling a story. She takes subjects that have been written about thousands of times, and makes them gripping and new. In this book, Goodwin focuses on the American home front during WWII and some of the most visible, unique personalities who shaped the times, including, of course, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. Through her words, the reader is witness to the evolution of a nation and national character, first stumbling out of the Great Depression, then confronting an unwanted world war horribly unprepared, and finally riding a war victory into the 50's and 60's with all the lurking unresolved social and political issues that would characterize those two decades. I felt like this book was a window looking in on the lives my grandparents and their parents must have led. Sometimes I think we have the feeling that the world is more terrible, uncertain and dangerous now than it has ever been. You only have to read Goodwin's book to realize how wrong that view is. Goodwin's portrait of FDR and Eleanor and their marriage is nothing short of fascinating. It's a very full picture and doesn't shy away from the flaws and weaknesses. It tells a familiar story about how two people who love each other deeply can also hurt each other so much that they never heal from it. I love the way Goodwin uses personal letters and diary entries to bring personalities and events to life. She is very good at it. I was particularly taken in by Eleanor's story. As I read about her, I was continually reminded of Katharine Graham and her autobiography, Personal History. For personal and cultural reasons, both women were well through half of their lives before they really came into their own. Eleanor's struggle to come into her own, and lasting mark on the American social and political landscape is a true inspiration, and probably a type for the history of the American character as well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I love this book. I'm fascinated by the changing social attitudes and conditions during World War II in the United States. I'm also captivated by the personalities of both Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor and so I was a happy camper while reading this book. It is a detailed examination of the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor and their ability to overcome emotional distance to create a unique partnership. Both realized that the United States could not emerge from the war if it was a unifie I love this book. I'm fascinated by the changing social attitudes and conditions during World War II in the United States. I'm also captivated by the personalities of both Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor and so I was a happy camper while reading this book. It is a detailed examination of the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor and their ability to overcome emotional distance to create a unique partnership. Both realized that the United States could not emerge from the war if it was a unified cooperative nation and both Roosevelts worked for this common purpose. One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Goodwin's description of the White House as "a small, intimate hotel" during the war years, housing the family, friends, staff members (Missy LeHand), and foreign visitors (Winston Churchill). I highly recommend this interesting, very readable book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Randy Endemann

    This is a marathon of a book that I found difficult to put down. Goodwin's depiction of the Roosevelt's during WWII takes on a very narrow timeline that unfolds week by week. Her knowledge of the subject becomes clear in her attention to detail. It is not nearly a chronological history, it is more of a personal portrait which explores the emotions, motivations, and fears of America's greatest president, and those around him. History has afforded us perspective that the subjects of the book lacked This is a marathon of a book that I found difficult to put down. Goodwin's depiction of the Roosevelt's during WWII takes on a very narrow timeline that unfolds week by week. Her knowledge of the subject becomes clear in her attention to detail. It is not nearly a chronological history, it is more of a personal portrait which explores the emotions, motivations, and fears of America's greatest president, and those around him. History has afforded us perspective that the subjects of the book lacked. One must keep that in mind when reading this book; historical decisions and precedents were not so clear cut at the time. Within that context, the story of the Roosevelts is much more spectacular.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    This book was so well writen. Goodwin is a good historian and would mix the personal lives of the Roosevelts with the political atmosphere of the times. I was just one year old when it started and six years old when it ended but because my father was in the navy from 1942 to 1945 I do have memories of the time. I lived with my fraternal grandparents and remember listening to the radio with my grandfather when the President died. A friend lent the book to me. When I was just about a third of the This book was so well writen. Goodwin is a good historian and would mix the personal lives of the Roosevelts with the political atmosphere of the times. I was just one year old when it started and six years old when it ended but because my father was in the navy from 1942 to 1945 I do have memories of the time. I lived with my fraternal grandparents and remember listening to the radio with my grandfather when the President died. A friend lent the book to me. When I was just about a third of the way through I knew it was a book I wanted to own and bought my own copy so I could underline and dog ear the pages. There are so many interesting antedotes and facts I wanted to have them at my disposal. Highly recommend this book, but it is a long one.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    What a magificent book! Kudos to the author. Extremely well-written. Absolutely loved it and would recomend it to all.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    SPOILERS? - well maybe. I do present ideas and questions that arise in my mind as I learn about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and the Home Front in WW2 I totally loved this book. It was amazing!!! Tell me, how often do you read a history book that brings tears to your eyes when the main character dies? And here you have more than just one main character. You cannot help but fall in love with both Franklin and Eleanor. Their relationship is extraordinry. It feel so real b/c it is filled with good SPOILERS? - well maybe. I do present ideas and questions that arise in my mind as I learn about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and the Home Front in WW2 I totally loved this book. It was amazing!!! Tell me, how often do you read a history book that brings tears to your eyes when the main character dies? And here you have more than just one main character. You cannot help but fall in love with both Franklin and Eleanor. Their relationship is extraordinry. It feel so real b/c it is filled with good and bad. I was left feeling very sad for both of them. After reading this book they are not simply historical figures, but real people. With both weaknesses and strengths. The reader also gets under the skin of many other long-time residents of the White House, friends and companions of Franklin and Eleanor - Harry Hopkins, Missy LeHand, Lucy Perkins, Princess Martha, Churchill, Hick, Tommy, Sara Roosevelt, Anna and John Boettiger and don't forget the Scotty Fala. These people are no longer JUST historical figures - they become real live human beings. All the historical facts, military war strategies, conferences, labor, racial and civil rights issues, women's role in society, Jewish persecution and much much more are expained in the context of the individuals shaping history. This is beyond doubt a 5 star book! Through page 355: To give a balanced review I must mention that the military strategies, the war particulars, the talks between Churchill and Roosevelt and Stalin and other many, many other individuals are all thoroughly discussed. I think this book would be of interest to a wide range of readers because it both explains underlieing characteristics of the prime protagonists and all the historical war details. The reader can choose the people or subject matter that interests them most. I personally am blown over by Eleanor's achievements and her personal integrity. I did not approach this book to specifically learn about her. It was Franklin and the Hone Front focus that drew me to the book! What a marvelous surprise. With this book learning becomes a pleasant pastime. I must mention that there are numerous photos and a drawing of the second floor family quarters of the White House. Through page 164: Oh, I am laughing. I have to say one more thing. So Franklin was given really a hard time byt Eleanor's fight to help the black community. This was his reaction to these complaints: "Never once, however, did the president move to curb his wife's activities on behalf of the Negroes. Do you mind if I say what I think, she once asked her husband. 'No, certainly not,' he replied. 'You can say anything you want. I can always say, 'Well, that is my wife; I can't do anything about her.'" My husband and I sort of have this relationship....... I consider this team-work. :0) Through page 163: I am totally captivated by Eleanor now. Without her, I am not so sure Franklin's term in office would have been so remarkable..... Her speech to the Convention before Franklin's third term of office - WOW! What a strange relationship. I am also thinking of the numerous permanent residents living in the White House. Nobody would ever thinking of making up such a story! Fact is more intriguing than fiction. But here follows another example of why I so admire Eleanor (page 163): "During the thirties, Eleanor's public identification with black causes encouraged the hope of the black community. In 1938 when confronted with a segregation ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, that required her to sit in the white section of an auditorium, apart from Mrs. Bethune and her other black friends, she had captured public attention by placing her chair in the center aisle, between the two sections. In 1939, she had resigned from ther Daighters of the American Revolution (DAR) after it barred the Negro singer Marian Anderson from its auditorium...... Although these actions may seem purely symbolic now, they must be evaluated in the context of their times....." "The president was far more cautious than his wife. While Eleanor thought in terms of what should be done, Franklin thought in terms of what could be done." Through Chapter 4, page 105: Had I just been a little patient and commpleted the chapter, I would have seen that my questions were soon to be answered. Eleanor's troubled childhood helps explain her behavior, both her strength of character and periods of depression. She has found her "first wartime cause in the movement to open America's doors to the refugee children of Europe." Her clever usage of visitor visas to get around immigration quotas was just the beginning. During the era of the New Deal Eleanor and Franklin had worked together as partners fighting for the same goals, now her role bacame agitator and his politician. Franklin was very aware of the plight of the Jews. While the Jewish population constituted only 3 percent of the total US population, 15% of Roosevelts top appointments were Jews. In fact the New Deal was jokingly called the Jew Deal by some! Roper polls clearly showed that Americans did not favor increased Jewish immigration, and all efforts to restrict Nazi infiltration were supported. What Eleanor and Franklin achieved is still best seen as team-work, even if sometimes they appear to be on opposing sides. Through page 94: This book is never dry. The less the reader knows about a given subject, the higher is the chance that they find a non-fiction book dry, the easier it is to feel bombarded by all the facts. I am reading this book b/c I do not know much about FDR and Eleanor. I have not once been bored. I have not once stopped for a glass of water..... People want different things from a history book. I want to know who the characters are. This helps me understand the decisions they make. It is important to show a nuanced individual. Saying one thing can often be misinterpreted, so I need several examples to fully understand the underlieing traits. I am going to quote from page 73-74 to show you how this author will draw a picture for the reader. The following is about FDR and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt: "Today, as for so many days throughout his fifty-eight years, the president's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, was at the door to greet him. Her waist had thickened over the years, but at eighty-five, she was still a handsome woman, with her high forehead, her thick white hair, and her gold lorgnette. Exquisitely dressed in white or black, the only two colors she regularly wore, Sara moved with great distinctness, embodying in her carriage the impression of superiority. But there was warmth in her eyes, and her smile was so startingly similar to her son's that audiences at movie theaters broke into spontaneous applause when they saw her face." "As the president kissed his mother at the door, reporters recollected that it was just a year ago at the same doorway that Sara Roosevelt had greeted the British monarchs, King George IV and Queen Elizabeth, during their royal visit to Hyde Park....." "It is said that in the weeks before the king and queen arrived, Sara's neighbors along the Hudson had asked her if she was going to redecorate the house. 'Of course not,' she responded, in her best starchy manner 'they're not coming to see a redecorated house, they're comin to see my house.'" "On the day of the visit, Sara had waited in the library with Franklin and Eleanor for the king and queen. Much to her displeasure, Franklin had prepared a tray of cocktails for the royal visitors. For years, the question of serving alcohol in the Big House had been a point of contention between mother and son - so much so that Franklin had simply gone around his mother by moving his cocktail hour to a secret hiding place in the cloakroom beneath the stairs....." "But on this occasion, Franklin had proved as stubborn as his mother, insisting that the alcohol remain in open and ready condition. When the king came into the library, Franklin greeted him with a twinkle in his eye: 'My mother does not approve of cocktails and thinks you should have a cup of tea.' The king reflected for a moment and then observed, 'Neither does my mother.' Whereupon the president and the king raised their glasses to one another in an unspoken bond and proceeded to drink their martinis." The reader is shown how Eleanor and Franklin and all those around them did actually behave, rather than being told in neat summarized sentences that impart no real truth. I am trying to understand the complicated relationship between FDR and Eleanor. At this poin I instinctively admire Franklin's optimism and empathy and his belief to support military aid to France, England, Belgium.... The predominant Isolationist and big business wanted to protect their own back first. Eleanor "stressed the importance of renewing democracy at home in order to make the fight for democracy abroad worthwhile" (page 30) Her efforts stressed aid to the poor and sick, support of union rights and help to the American people in the aftermath of the Depression. FDR had such optimism and an ever strong belief in the American people to do what ever they set their mind to. In one "fireside chat" he said the Americans could BOTH help the allied forces AND build up their own reserves. He had a huge belief in himself and his country. As Franklin's attention gets turned more and more on to the war and his tight relationship with Harry Hopkins strengthened, Eleanor felt worthless. She felt she wasn't doing anything. She wanted to go with the Red Cross to Europe - and this was not allowed. She was a very capable person and she was so darn frustrated by "not being able to do anything". What bothers me is that she is depressive and jealous .... OK, I admit, she was only human. This woman is so driven, but also she simply could not stand to be completely out of the "lime-light", although Franklin was consistently praising her work. Then the book discusses her earlier family life, about her beautiful mother and drunken father, but still qustions remain. I cannot expect everything to be made clear at once. Still, how could Franklin, who has such empathy for suffering, not have seen to it that Jews were allowed into the US in large numbers? What were the restraining factors? What happens to his optimistis spirit of fighting for what you think is right? I certainly don't understand Eleanor's frantic drive for work and the jealousy that arises when she isn't momentarily playing a major role. Eleanor wasn't pretty. Perhaps her inferior looks were so frequently compared to her mother's outstanding beauty, that she sought to shine elsewhere. I am just guessing. I am reading the book to learn more about the people and the historical facts! Through page 49:I am already drawn in and can see that the writing is right up my alley. The auhor draws a picture of FDR and Eleanor that goes beyond a strict recounting of the facts, but it doesn't get gossipy. There are troubles between the two but also the respect and love between them is clearly evident. It is so important to look at both of them b/c they both shaped history. To understand what happened you have to understand who they are as individuals. You must understand their relationship. The author has done this from page 1. This is one of those exceptional history/biography books that keeps the reader's interest because you see the characters not just as leaders but also as human beings. That is what I have noticed so far. I love it Although the book is said to only cover the time period May 1940 through December 1945, thus portryaing the Home Front in WW2,that is not really true. Many events prior to this time period ohave shaped the characters to make them who they are on May 1940. These events are all included, and in a very interesting manner. What childhood experience made FDR so scared of fires? Why was he unable to sack employees, even thoughs who were sick or consistently drunk? What were the negative AND positive results of this "weakness"? Why was Eleanor so obsessed with her work? What roll did Missy play, and why?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    2018 Read Harder Challenge: A book with a cover you hate. OK, this is a total cop-out. I have nothing against this cover, but it's a way to get credit for finishing this HUGE book which took up a couple months in early 2018. :) This was a long book, but engrossing, and spurred me to also watch the entire Ken Burns FDR documentary, which provided some nice visuals and audio to go with the book. I wish I'd noted more thoughts at the time, but I know I thought a lot differently about FDR as a human 2018 Read Harder Challenge: A book with a cover you hate. OK, this is a total cop-out. I have nothing against this cover, but it's a way to get credit for finishing this HUGE book which took up a couple months in early 2018. :) This was a long book, but engrossing, and spurred me to also watch the entire Ken Burns FDR documentary, which provided some nice visuals and audio to go with the book. I wish I'd noted more thoughts at the time, but I know I thought a lot differently about FDR as a human seeing his adult loss of mobility, and of Eleanor as a woman perhaps not a good fit for her time or her marriage but who created a life and legacy that is remembered today. I always knew of her as kind of a women's rights hero, and now I know more about why. "Something in her childhood had locked her up, she said, making her fear the loss of control that comes with abandoning oneself to one's passions, giving her 'an exaggerated idea of the necessity of keeping all one's desires under complete subjugation.'"

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I enjoyed this book a great deal as I’ve been fascinated with the Roosevelt’s for a long time. I recommend it. My only complaint is that it should have been longer. The author would be telling a delicious story about someone in their circle and just when it got good she would ... stop and move on to the next thing. This happened several times and it was quite frustrating, I kept thinking wait, stop, what happened then? Maybe she was being discreet? I don’t know but it drove be bats.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Newell

    It is inspiring to find an author who can turn facts from history into a deep compelling story with complex characters and intricate details. Goodwin brings the drama to history and that is what I like about her work the most. She takes the time to research the small details that give these larger than life characters depth and character. I feel like I know FDR and understand the character flaws, personal strengths, and ego that molded his entire decision-making process. I am also fascinated with It is inspiring to find an author who can turn facts from history into a deep compelling story with complex characters and intricate details. Goodwin brings the drama to history and that is what I like about her work the most. She takes the time to research the small details that give these larger than life characters depth and character. I feel like I know FDR and understand the character flaws, personal strengths, and ego that molded his entire decision-making process. I am also fascinated with her storytelling timeline. This book starts at the dawn of WW2, but she manages to masterfully weave in all of the back story throughout the book. She constantly moves back and forth in her chronology, taking us to the heart of the depression, then to the characters' young days, then back to the war again. So many historians are slaves to chronological storytelling. Goodwin's book takes off like a rocket because she has the ability to hang her plot on personality, not just the march of time. I was charmed by the frat house cast of characters who came and lived in the White House during the war. Funny how being a good friend of the Roosevelts meant becoming a White House resident.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lightreads

    What it says on the tin – 800 pages on Eleanor and Franklin, personal and political, from 1940-1945. The thing that's good about it is the same thing that's frustrating: this is a book about their marriage, their friends, the war, race relations, the rise of organized labor, the new women's workforce, etc. etc. So it's wide-ranging and densely woven, but because it's so diverse, it occasionally lacks cohesion and true depth. Her Team of Rivals did better, there. Also, I was quite put off by the h What it says on the tin – 800 pages on Eleanor and Franklin, personal and political, from 1940-1945. The thing that's good about it is the same thing that's frustrating: this is a book about their marriage, their friends, the war, race relations, the rise of organized labor, the new women's workforce, etc. etc. So it's wide-ranging and densely woven, but because it's so diverse, it occasionally lacks cohesion and true depth. Her Team of Rivals did better, there. Also, I was quite put off by the handling of Franklin's disability. Yet again I'm confronted with a scholar who seems to possess a keen eye for the rhetorical shades of meaning in history, except where it comes to disability, where it's all shallow platitudes. Where she addresses it at all. Which makes her complicit in the conspiracy of silence FDR himself carried on. Thus the three stars.

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