Saturday, January 18, 2014

January, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt- No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin and a reason to read history!

Springwood at Hyde Park 
The cold of winter and the lure of the “ole woodstove” bring on my study of history as usual.  I have finished from this fall until now... a number of books going from the Great Depression on to the Neal Deal and WWII - from 5 by Churchill, two by Eisenhower, 2 on Johnson, and the gem of them all “No Ordinary Time” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

With January 30th coming this week – the Birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,  I scheduled reading the book to coincide with it.  The book is a complete look at the Roosevelt years brought forth in an intimate way. It is the story of all the people surrounding the President and First Land as well as the story of a fight not only to end the “Depression” but also to end the world conflict.  Leaders like Winston Churchill, King, Hopkins, and Stalin come to life, as do all the characters involved both official and family life.  Doris uses a huge amount of research that weaves the story using the actual words via diaries, press articles, and personal interviews... as well as glimpses of the official record.

Seeing Eleanor as her true self is a stunning glimpse into a woman who drove herself and in part her husband to improve not on the United States but the world.  She often is called is eyes and legs in her travesl…but the book shows that she was also an antagonist that harped at him for causes he otherwise would have let go.

The title actually came from a speech Eleanor gave not the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The speech came when Roosevelt ran for an unheard of third term.  He maneuvered to get the delegates to put his name up for nomination without actually declaring to run or going to the convention.  The conventioneers resented the fact that he did not come in person and when he wished to have Henry Wallace nominated for Vice President... the convention erupted trying to push a number of other candidates beccoming quite an unsettled and raucous scene. 

So in typical fashion he asked Eleanor to go and speak to them.  Up until that time no other First Lady had addressed a Democratic Convention.  With noise and “carryings-on” they put her to the podium after all the names had been placed in nomination to speak.  As she spoke the convention quieted and she appealed to them to give the President the man he wanted…with the world at war  “this was no ordinary time”.  When she finished, Wallace was unanimously selected.

The book is a New York Times Best Seller, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a worthy study that should be read by all… especially the baby boomers and younger folk so that they can get a true picture of those days in America. A time of poverty, strife, segregation, New Deals, rationing, the industrial War effort, women to work, and most of all the intimate story of the man that held it all together.

Quoting the New York Times _”Men will thank God on their knees a hundred years from now, that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House. “

Even if you don’t agree with his policies reading the book will give you the ability to see that his Presidency was a gift to the people of not only America, but the world at war!  Read or listen to it.  A rare history book that will have you crying with the Nation at the end.

Below is my video of Springwood at Hyde Park where you can visit the Presidents home, Library, and Eleanor's cottage at Val-kill....a day trip visit from CNY a great place to visit with the family.

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