Becoming FDR The personal crisis that made a president

Jonathan Darman

Book - 2022

"In popular memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential political "natural." Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family and blessed with charisma, he seemed destined for high office from birth. Yet for all his gifts, the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and strategic ability. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his eight-year struggle through illness and recovery. Becoming FDR traces the riveti...ng story of the crucible that forged Roosevelt's political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921, the former vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down at the age of thirty-nine. He spent nearly a decade trying to heal and rehabilitate his body and adapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to a new medium-radio-that allowed him to reach listeners far beyond his physical presence. Suffering had also taught Roosevelt compassion, cementing his bond with those he once famously called "the forgotten man." Most crucially, he had discovered how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation-a genius for inspiration he employed to motivate Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The polio years were transformative too for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose at-first reluctant appearances as her husband's surrogate sparked a drive to become a force in her own right. Tracing the physical, political, and personal transformation of the iconic president, Becoming FDR is the story of a man who found his strong, true self in the depths of a crushing challenge-and re-emerged with wisdom he would use to inspire the world"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Roosevelt, Franklin D.
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2nd Floor New Shelf BIOGRAPHY/Roosevelt, Franklin D. (NEW SHELF) Due Oct 15, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : Random House [2022]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxvii, 407 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 385-390) and index.
ISBN
9781400067077
1400067073
Main Author
Jonathan Darman (author)
  • Prologue: Destinies (June 1920 and June 1936)
  • Part I: The invader (August 1921). On Campobello
  • Part II: The ascent (Spring 1919). The path ; The parade ; Broken glass
  • Part III: Origins (1882-1919). The precious child ; Love matches ; The orphan girl ; Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt ; Golden boy
  • Part IV: A public life (June 1919-August 1921). Breathless and hunted ; Persecutors ; Lonely island ; In a hurry ; Hurtling
  • Part V: The forgotten man (September 1921-November 1922). Stranded ; Plans ; The will and determination of the patient ; Nothing to do but think ; Means of grace
  • Part VI: Try something (January 1924-October 1928). Time in the sun ; The way it feels ; The soul that had believed ; The call
  • Part VII: The return (October 1928-July 1932). On my feet ; The long fight ; "You must let me be myself" ; The prize
  • Part VIII: Out of every crisis (July 1932-March 1933). Pray for me ; Spreading fire ; An unfamiliar city ; Fear itself
  • Epilogue: The spirit of Warm Springs (November 1933 and November 1941).
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Franklin Roosevelt's struggle with paralysis made him a great president, according to this searching biographical study. Journalist Darman (Landslide) opens his narrative with Roosevelt a charming, callow, selfish politician who started a fight and showily leaped over chairs at the 1920 Democratic National Convention to get attention from the press. His agonizing bout with polio in 1921, which crippled his legs, changed him drastically, Darman argues, imbuing him with patience, discipline, thoughtfulness, strategic vision, and a genuine empathy for the disadvantaged. (It also liberated his wife, Eleanor, who emerged from his shadow during his convalescence to become a political leader in her own right.) Illness honed Roosevelt's penchant for evasion and deceit as well, Darman suggests, as he concealed his disability behind displays of cheerful vigor. (During one carefully staged appearance, he chatted with reporters while jauntily smoking a cigarette that aides had to light and place in his mouth beforehand to hide the fact that he couldn't yet use his hands.) Written in elegant, evocative prose—"The accent was the same, a honking aristocratic lockjaw charmingly discordant with the plain words it pronounced. But his voice was deeper, more grounded, more sure"—this insightful portrait convincingly grounds Roosevelt's public achievements in painful private experience. Readers will be riveted. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt focuses on how his struggles with polio helped forged the strength and wisdom that helped him guide America and the world through the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War II. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In popular memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential political "natural." Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family and blessed with charisma, he seemed destined for high office from birth. Yet for all his gifts, the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and strategic ability. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his eight-year struggle through illness and recovery. Becoming FDR traces the riveting story of the cruciblethat forged Roosevelt's political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921, the former vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down at the age of thirty-nine. He spent nearly a decade trying to heal and rehabilitate his body andadapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to a new medium-radio-that allowed him to reach listeners far beyond his physical presence. Suffering had also taught Roosevelt compassion, cementing his bond with those he once famously called "the forgotten man." Most crucially, he had discovered how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation-a genius for inspiration he employed to motivate Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The polio years were transformative too for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose at-first reluctant appearances as her husband's surrogate sparked a drive to become aforce in her own right. Tracing the physical, political, and personal transformation of the iconic president, Becoming FDR is the story of a man who found his strong, true self in the depths of a crushing challenge-and re-emerged with wisdom he would useto inspire the world"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“An illuminating account of how Franklin D. Roosevelt’s struggles with polio steeled him for the great struggles of the Depression and of World War II.”—Jon Meacham“A valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face.”—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da VinciIn popular memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential political “natural.” Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family and blessed with an abundance of charm and charisma, he seemed destined for high office. Yet for all his gifts, the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and an ability to think strategically. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his seven-year journey through illness and recovery. Becoming FDR traces the riveting story of the struggle that forged Roosevelt’s character and political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921 at the age of thirty-nine, the former failed vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down. He spent much of the next decade trying to rehabilitate his body and adapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage in 1928 as the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become compassionate and shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to inspire listeners and to reach them through a new medium—radio. Suffering cemented his bond with those he once famously called “the forgotten man.” Most crucially, he had discovered how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation—a skill that he employed to motivate Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The polio years were transformative, too, for the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor, and for Eleanor herself, who became, at first reluctantly, her husband's surrogate at public events, and who grew to become a political and humanitarian force in her own right. Tracing the physical, political, and personal evolution of the iconic president, Becoming FDR shows how adversity can lead to greatness, and to the power to remake the world.