Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second President of the United States, was easily one of the most charismatic personalities to grace (or infect, depending on one’s political persuasion) the American political scene in the twentieth century. This natural endowment was highlighted by his involvement with two of the most catastrophic events of the modern era: the Great Depression and World War II.

Yet, despite the volumes of testimony, oral and otherwise, available to biographers, Franklin Roosevelt remains one of the most enigmatic on individuals. Indeed, it is often asserted that although F.D.R. trusted in the existence of God, and suspected He was Episcopalian, everything else was subject to negotiation. In consequence, historians continue to dispute the extent to which Roosevelt’s actions were based on deeply held convictions as opposed to pragmatic assessments of what is was possible to achieve in a given situation.

This latest work by the Harvard-based historian Frank Freidel will not end the arguments concerning what Franklin Roosevelt wanted, or why he did what he did. Nevertheless, Freidel, who has published four magisterial volumes (covering Roosevelt’s activities up to July, 1933), draws on his unsurpassed knowledge of his subject in this lively and authoritative biography. Freidel exemplifies a fast-vanishing breed of historian, those who perceive historical writing as literature. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: A RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY will appeal to anyone with an interest in American history.