Roosevelt’s memoirs provide an intriguing personal look at the opportunities and barriers for a woman in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Her grace under pressure and success in both the traditional role of wife and mother and in the political arena have captured the interest and respect of Americans of all ages. She was in many ways a modern feminist before Betty Friedan and other leaders founded the modern women’s movement.
Roosevelt asserts that her reason for writing this book was to tell the history of her husband’s administration. Yet This I Remember is much more focused on her own activities than on those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his administration is discussed mostly when she was directly involved in its work. One senses a perfectly appropriate desire to tell her own story, partly for herself and partly to give credit to the many people who worked with her. Roosevelt’s tale is a good one to tell.
For young adults, This I Remember provides a model of what courage, hard work, and determination can produce. Although rarely militant and never strident, Roosevelt advanced the causes of peace and social justice. One reason for reading history and biography is to find heroes, and for many people, Eleanor Roosevelt is hard to beat in that role.