No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II Hardcover – Import 1 Sep 1994
Product Description From Booklist People often say they don't like to read history because it's so dry. They apparently have not read history the way Goodwin writes it. The subtitles set the order of importance here: first come the Roosevelts--the ever cool ever charming Franklin and his conscience Eleanor--set against the background of World War II as it was waged on the home front. By the time we finish this more than 800-page study we feel as if we have been present during the events described as if we have known the players. And what a group of players they were. Goodwin uses the setting of the home front quite literally focusing on the White House itself which was a veritable boardinghouse home to an odd assortment of ducks including the president's sickly irreplaceable associate Harry Hopkins; Hopkins' young daughter Missy LeHand FDR's secretary and confidant who was desperately in love with her boss; and Lorena Hickok a onetime journalist who was desperately in love with Eleanor--and those were just the regular roomers. The story could turn on that plot alone but there was also a war going on and Goodwin is as capable of deciphering world events as she is people. Though she never shies away from discussing battle strategy when appropriate she always maintains her focus on how the war affected life over here. In this context the evolution of social problems in the U.S.--especially the treatment of minorities and women (shepherded by their patron saint Eleanor)--becomes a major theme in the book. In fact readers gain a real understanding of the genesis of many of our current social ills. But always Goodwin makes us see the Big Picture in terms of individual lives. Emerson once said "There is no history only biography." This book makes that quote a living breathing reality. Ilene Cooper About the Author Doris Kearns Goodwin: I trace my love of history to the days when I was six years old and my father taught me the mysterious art of keeping score at baseball games so that I could listen to the Dodgers play in the afternoons while he was at work and re-create for him at night the entire history of each day's game play by play inning by inning. He made it even more special for me because he never told me that all this was described in the newspapers the next day so that I thought without me he would never even know what happened to our beloved Dodgers! Thus history acquired for me a magic that it still holds to this day. But if my love of history was planted in that childhood experience my particular style of writing--a love of storytelling and an attempt to fuse history and biography with as much detail as possible so that the characters can come alive for the reader-is rooted in the experience of knowing one president Lyndon Johnson-very well when I was only thirty four. I worked for him first as a White House Fellow in his last year in office and then helped him on his memoirs the last four years of his life. It should have been a time in his life when he had much to be grateful for. His career in politics had after all reached a peak with his election to the presidency and he had all the money he needed to pursue any leisure activity. But here was a man whose entire life had been consumed by power success and ambition and as a result he could barely get through the days once the presidency was gone. And in his vulnerable state he opened up to me in ways he never would have had I known him at the height of his power telling me of his fears his nightmares and his sorrows. It was this experience that fired within me the drive to understand the inner person behind the public image that I'd like to believe I have brought to each of my books beginning with Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream published in 1976 when I was still teaching at Harvard where I had gotten my Ph.D. in 1968. Watching Johnson's desolation at the end of his life also had an impact on my personal life. I had started my second book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys shortly after I was married and had two sons in two years. I was still a professor at Harvard trying to teach write and be a mother at the same time and doing nothing right. The image of Johnson's sad retirement helped me to make some choices-to give up teaching so that I could stay at home with my children and write. Even then it took ten years to write the Kennedy book which was finally published in 1987. But when I look at the young men my boys have become I have never regretted the years I spent at home. I was drawn to my third book No Ordinary Time by a fascination both with the period of time a time when our country was united by a common cause against a common enemy and by a fascination with the extraordinary partnership between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The research was a labor of love: I spent months at a time at Hyde Park New York conducted hundreds of interviews with people who knew the Roosevelts personally perused dozens of diaries and thousands of letters read old newspapers and magazines and truly felt as if I had been transported back 50 years in time. See all Product Description
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