FDR by Jean Edward Smith
Excellent biography for the general reader. There have been many books on Roosevelt recently, several about his relationship with Churchill specifically, but not a complete biography. Smith sees
This isn’t a biography with startlingly new information. I’ve read a lot of books about Roosevelt and a lot of histories in which Roosevelt figures prominently and was surprised by nothing but still delighted with the book because of Smith's ability to analyze
Smith devoted more attention to the New Deal, both its successes and its failures, than to WWII which seemed odd to me, but after all, those years constituted a larger proportion of FDR’s presidency and the war years have been covered so thoroughly in the recent spate of books on WWII and Roosevelt’s role and influence. I was particularly convinced of Roosevelt’s power as a politician and leader when Smith showed how his positive attitude and ability to communicate with all Americans appealed to the people who had heard nothing but doom and gloom from
Oh yes, I was surprised by one thing. There was an assassination attempt on Roosevelt before his first inauguration. In Feb of 1933 he had been on a yacht with Harvard friends (last vacation before taking up his duties). They put in at Miami because Roosevelt was supposed to address a rally/convention of the American Legion in a park. After his talk which he gave from the back of the car, 5 shots came in rapid succession. One hit the mayor of Chicago who was talking to Roosevelt. Then as afterwards became clear, the last shot, evidently intended for Roosevelt, went wide when a woman in the crowd hit the assassin's arm with her handbag. At least two other people were hit but not killed. Roosevelt overrode the Secret Service and got Cermak (Chicago mayor) into the car and took him to the hospital. He didn't die right away but when he did, the assassin, an unemployed bricklayer of Italian extraction was tried, and sentenced to death.