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Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom Hardcover – Oct 23 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1360 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Canada; New edition edition (Oct. 23 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481841
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 6.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 20 2014
Format: Hardcover
One might expect a writer of Conrad Black's political persuasion to disapprove strongly of FDR, and blame him for much of the USA's current ills. That would be simplistic and wrong.

Black is actually quite approving of FDR, although he doesn't hold back from criticizing him where he finds him at fault. Overall, though, this book provides a picture of a leader who was up to the task of the times, saving the United States from catastrophe during the Depression and then skilfully maneuvering the nation into and through the Second World War.

This book is massive - almost 1200 pages, plus endnotes. Short of a multi-volume biography, this is about as big a book as you can get.

Conrad Black's writing style is fascinating, alternating between formal and then what can only be described as extravagant turns of phrase e.g. Hitler "irrigating his chin", etc. Black doesn't shy away from making moral judgements - the words "evil" and "disgusting" occur at times. He does make quite strenuous efforts to keep things in balance overall. Though this book is obviously a lot of work to get through, it is certainly worth tackling if you have much interest in the subject and the times.
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Format: Hardcover
In "The Time 100 - the Most Important People of the Century," Franklin Delano Roosevelt is ranked the runner-up most important person of the century - second only to Albert Einstein. Roosevelt is a giant of world history.
On the back cover of this fine book by Conrad Black are these comments about this book by CONSERVATIVE intellectuals I generally admire:
George F. Will: "Conrad Black skillfully assembles powerful arguments to support strong and sometimes surprising judgements. This spirited defense of Roosevelt as a savior of America's enterprise system, and geopolitical realist, is a delight to read."
John Lukacs: "Conrad Black's FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT is extraordinary. It is something different from the dim and flickering lamp of academic retrospect. A new - and generous - light is poured on its subject: an illumination directed by a conviction of Roosevelt's place in the history of an entire century."
William F. Buckley Jr.: "An enormous accomplishment, a learned volume on FDR by a vital critical mind, which will absorb critics and the reading public."
Henry Kissinger: "No Biography of Roosevelt is more thoughtful and readable. None is as comprehensive."
I really enjoyed Conrad Black's writing style, which adds life to the words with his own colorful descriptors. This is the best single-volume biography of FDR. He presents an accurate and living picture of Roosevelt in his presidency and not a dry summary of the events. For example, I chuckled when Black says that FDR correctly judged Hitler to be the real concern while Mussolini was, in comparison, a buffoon.
My own criticism of the book is that it skips over the human suffering of the period. The Great Depression was devestating.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know of a better one-volume biography of FDR. Geoffrey Ward's two volumes, Before the Trumpet, and A First-Class Temperament are better written and more carefully researched, but they only take his life to 1928. This book relies on secondary sources mostly, and its footnoting is unhelpful--the footnotes just tell what secondary source the author got the information from. I have not read the multi-volume works of Frank Friedel and Kenneth Davis, but they are referred to a lot in the footnotes to this book and no doubt are more carefully researched. Yet I thought reading this worthwhile, and its overall assessment of FDR's accomplishments rings very true. George Will and Bill Buckley, Jr., and Henry Kissinger supplied blurbs for the jacket, which more hidebound Republicans, clinging to GOP attitudes during Roosevelt's Administrations would not, I presume, do. Black's assessment of FDR's performance at Teheran and Yalta ably refutes some of the old Republican canards re same, and make for good reading. All in all, I thought the time spent reading this nice big book was well spent. There are a few errors, and I mention two: on page 233 Black refers to Senator Harry Flood Byrd as a Virginia favorite son candidate at the 1932 Democratic National Conventio--but at the time Byrd was not yet a Senator; and on page 792 Black says Admiral Darlan's funeral in Algiers on Dec 26, 1942, was attended by the "Cardinal-Primate" of Africa, but there was no Cardinal in Africa in 1942, much less a Cardinal-Primate. The book does have a good 25-page bibliography.
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Format: Hardcover
The presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was momentous and yet it continues to be shrouded in myth. The same is true of Roosevelt the man. Who was this patrician only child of an indulgent mother, paralyzed by polio in his thirties, who ultimately came to be one of the three greatest presidents in American history and one of the greatest Americans of all time?
Conrad Black's enormous one volume biography attempts to answer this question in a new way. To summarize Black's view of Roosevelt's character, FDR was cunning, manipulative, callous, vindictive, sometimes cruel and always inscrutable. Indeed, in Black's view he bore some of the traits associated with the enemies of freedom, Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. But to Black, these traits of character were always applied to benign ends and a personality like Roosevelt's was vitally necessary to carry out the tasks the times demanded. Although he is a staunch conservative, Black acknowledges Roosevelt's greatness without hesitation.
The first few hundred pages or so runs through the narrative of Roosevelt's life, including his over-indulgent childhood as the son of wealth and privilege in Hyde Park, New York. Black moves through these early years quickly. In comparison to other biographers, he does not give all that much credence to Roosevelt's early life as providing much insight into the development of his character. The seminal moment of FDR's first forty years was of course the attack of Polio, which left him with withered legs, unable to walk or even stand without heavy leg braces. The traditional narrative of Roosevelt's life holds that the crucible of the battle with serious illness represented a turning point from lighthearted unserious young man, to serious man of gravitas.
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