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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting introduction
Roosevelt by Roy Jenkins is an interesting, very readable introduction to the life of this great President. If you are looking for a short but interesting biography with some interesting bits of information then you won't go far wrong with this work. However, if you are looking for something more detailed and with lots of analysis this is really not for you. Nevertheless...
Published on 9 April 2008 by HBH

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dissapointed
Having read Roy Jenkins' biographies of Churchill and Gladstone and been delighted, I was very much looking forward to reading Jenkins' take on FDR. Sadly, Roy Jenkins died before completing this biography and it shows. It reads like polished yet comprehensive prep notes. It lacks the enthusiastic detail of the other two rightly acclaimed biographies.
Published on 25 Jan 2009 by J. Sawyer


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dissapointed, 25 Jan 2009
By 
J. Sawyer (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Roosevelt (Paperback)
Having read Roy Jenkins' biographies of Churchill and Gladstone and been delighted, I was very much looking forward to reading Jenkins' take on FDR. Sadly, Roy Jenkins died before completing this biography and it shows. It reads like polished yet comprehensive prep notes. It lacks the enthusiastic detail of the other two rightly acclaimed biographies.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting introduction, 9 April 2008
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This review is from: Roosevelt (Paperback)
Roosevelt by Roy Jenkins is an interesting, very readable introduction to the life of this great President. If you are looking for a short but interesting biography with some interesting bits of information then you won't go far wrong with this work. However, if you are looking for something more detailed and with lots of analysis this is really not for you. Nevertheless it is an interesting introduction to the life and partly the times of one of the defining characters in 20th century American history.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Hardcover)
I like Roy Jenkins political biographies, and looked forward to an interesting read. I found this was not up to the standard of some of his other works, maybe because it was his last work. Jenkins writes stylishly, but does not go into as great depth as his other works. He skates over some issues and does not examine peripheral characters such as Eisenhower and Trueman sufficiently.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The world we live is still Franklin Roosevelt's world....", 14 May 2009
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Hardcover)
I have read and reviewed most of the volumes in The American Presidents Series for which the late Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. served as editor-in-chief at the time when Roy Jenkins' brief biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 - April 12, 1945) when it was first published (2003). In the "Editor's Note," Schlesinger explains that the aim of the series is "to present the grand panorama of our chief executives in volumes compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the student, authoritative enough for the scholar. Each volume offers a distillation of character and career." Regrettably, Jenkins suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack while at work on the final chapter of this book. His friend and fellow presidential scholar, Richard Neustadt, then agreed to complete it.

As is also true of the other volumes, this brief biography examines the essential events and meaning of Roosevelt's life without oversimplification or generalization. As Jenkins notes, "He was more tested in peace and war than any president other than Lincoln." He was inaugurated in the midst of the Great Depression, was re-elected three times, and then died while in office near the end of World War Two. Jenkins organizes his material within eight chapters, devoting the first three to Roosevelt's life prior to the first term. The remaining five chapters examine "the exciting ambiguities of the first term," the nation's political and economic setbacks to which he and his cabinet struggled to respond, the nation's "backing into war," the "hard-fought years" of WW2 (i.e. December 1941-July 1944), and Roosevelt's death "on the verge of victory."

Along the way, he focuses special attention on those who seem to have had the greatest influence on Roosevelt throughout his life and career. They include his "Uncle Ted" during the first 38 years of his life as well as his parents (especially his mother Sara), wife Eleanor, and a succession of political advisors, notably Louis Howe and Harry Hopkins, and an extended (and complicated) relationship with Winston Churchill. Jenkins also devotes brief but sufficient attention to Lucy Mercer Rutherford with whom Roosevelt had an extended and episodic affair. There were at least three major developments that were also of significant influence: becoming permanently paralyzed from the waist down (in August of 1921) by what was diagnosed years later as Guillain-Barré syndrome, not poliomyelitis; his election to serve two terms as governor of New York (1924-1932); his election in 1932 as the 32nd President of the United States; and the attack of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, that plunged the United States into WW2.

Here in Dallas, we have a Farmer's Market near downtown at which several merchants offer a complimentary slice of fresh fruit as a "sample." In that same spirit, I now offer a few brief excerpts that are representative of the thrust of Jenkins' thinking and flavor of his writing style.

Upon becoming a junior Cabinet officer in early 1913: "Franklin bounded into his new responsibilities with all the enthusiasm of a large, well-bred, full-grown, but only half-trained puppy."

On inauguration day in 1932: "It was part of Roosevelt's genius that - much more than the rector of Groton [the private and prestigious boarding school that he attended] -- he cut through the gloom of a harsh March day...like a sunbeam through a lowering sky...his greatest single attribute - his confidence-giving confidence - shone through."

Once in office: "Under the shadow of the financial crisis, with runs on banks across the country and failures every day, the presidency began in a swirl of activity. There may be room fir dispute as to the extent to which the White House circle knew what they were doing. But there can be no doubt about the pace of activity."

After receiving a letter from Churchill in December of 1940, requesting greater American assistance: "The president received the communication when on a ten-day Caribbean cruise, accompanied, apart from his immediate staff, only by Harry Hopkins. It aroused no immediate reaction. Then, a couple of evenings later, according to Hopkins, `he suddenly came out with it -the whole program.' Thus was Lend-Lease born." Years later, James MacGregor Burns described it as "perhaps the most important letter of [Churchill's] life."

On "concessions" to the Soviets at Yalta: "FDR and Churchill `gave' Stalin nothing that he did not actually possess already by military occupation, something they regretted, Churchill especially, but as a practical matter could not reverse.... [Roosevelt was acutely conscious of Yalta as a sort of test, and quite aware that if the Soviets failed it he would have to face the prospect of something very like the Cold War that actually transpired."

Concluding comments: "The world we live in is not Churchill's, with its vanished British Empire, and not Stalin's, with his Soviet Union but a memory, his tyranny fully exposed, and Communist parties dethroned save in Cuba, or immensely reshaped as in China. The world we live is still Franklin Roosevelt's world, more fragmented yet with population doubled, weapons and communications revolutionized, dangerous in new way, but essentially recognizable. For good or ill, the United States is at its center, as it came to be in his time, and the presidency is at the center of its government, a position he restored and fostered. His story and he remain vital to the darkened future."

Congratulations to Roy Jenkins on a brilliant achievement, offered with a nod of recognition and appreciation to Richard Neustadt.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars useless, 4 Mar 2009
This review is from: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Hardcover)
This book is a ipersummary of other books written on FDR, at times very judgmental and in the end with no added value whatsoever. I wonder why they published it.
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