No Ordinary Time (Magill Book Reviews)
NO ORDINARY TIME is a well-timed book, published as it is on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing stages of World War II. It also is competently researched and written. It adds little to knowledge or understanding of the war itself, however, and is too long and sometimes tiresome.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were extraordinary people in positions of extraordinary influence in American society at an extraordinary time. The trouble with the book under review is that it covers ground already covered by any number of other books. Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of THE FITZGERALDS AND THE KENNEDYS (1987) and LYNDON JOHNSON AND THE AMERICAN DREAM (1977), is pleased with her own scholarly efforts, as no doubt she has cause to be. “This book relies predominantly upon a multitude of primary materials,” she states in her “Note on Sources.” So it evidently does. According to Goodwin, the White House Usher Diaries were “an especially invaluable guide at the start of the project. These day-by-day, even minute-by- minute chronologies reveal when the president and the first lady awakened, who joined them for meals and meetings, how much time was spent with each visitor.” The details of domestic life at the White House will fascinate some readers while seeming ordinary and tedious to others.
Goodwin’s device of alternating between narration of events on the home front and abroad and details of the First Family’s domestic concerns and...
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No Ordinary Time (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
No Ordinary Time is not an easy book to recommend. The best that can be said of it is that it revisits adequately a crucial moment in U.S. history. It will be pleasurable reading for people who enjoy being told the domestic details of the lives of great and famous people. Yet an uncountable number of other books have been written about World War II and its immense ramifications in space and time, many of which are far more valuable than this one to readers genuinely interested in understanding what it all was all about.
Doris Kearns Goodwin is the author of two other similar books, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (1987) and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1976). No Ordinary Time is permeated, indeed evidently motivated, by a largely unexamined fawning admiration for wealth and power for their own sakes. Franklin Roosevelt was one of the most important of U.S. presidents, to be sure, and Eleanor was an extraordinary figure in her own right. It seems evident that both have been written about quite often enough already. The year 1994 was full of events ominous in their implications for the continuing absence of global war: the U.S. occupation of Haiti; a seemingly definitive abdication by the international community of any responsibil-ity for any just and/or lasting end to the horrifically bloody war in Bosnia; nuclear brinkmanship on the Korean peninsula; the Russian invasion of Chechnya; at least half a million...
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