Tuesday, March 25, 2014

H. W. Brands's Biography of FDR

Written with a full appreciation of Roosevelt's accomplishments and a frank understanding of his flaws, Traitor to His Class is an engrossing read. The chief burden of the book is to explain how a man of Roosevelt's class and privilege could have become so firm a supporter of ordinary men and women, and so visionary an architect of American internationalism. Part I "Swimming to Health 1882 - 1928" covers the early period, right up to his becoming the Governor of New York. Part II "The Soul of the Nation 1929 - 1937" traces his path to the Presidency and the implementation of New Deal as a response to the Great Depression. The final part "The Fate of the World 1937 - 1945" examines America's entry into WWII and FDR's record as Commander-in-Chief. I was intrigued to learn that, in a moment of carelessness, FDR promised Winston Churchill to send American troops to defend Singapore. The Atlantic Charter was an important document supporting self-rule among the colonies. It explained why newly decolonized nations looked to American instead of the old imperialistic powers of Europe. The only child of an adoring mother, FDR was filled with a sense of his greatness from young. He died, praised by Churchill as "the greatest man" he had ever known.

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