TITLE: The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph or Hope
AUTHOR: Jonathan Alter
My wife bought this book for me for Christmas when I told her about the idea about reading a book on every US President. She bought it at Barnes and Noble. While it would not have been my first choice, it certainly turned out to be a great first book for the project and an excellent springboard for future reading.
Alter's premise is looking at Roosevelt's first 100 days but ironically he doesn't get to the actual time period until Chapter Thirty One, page 207. Of course, in order to understand the flurry of legislation passed during that time period, Alter had to develop the historical characters before that but the title was more than a little misleading.
In a strange twist I found some of the best reading in the footnotes. Alter refers to past and future presidents in these on many occasions that made me want to know more. Footnotes in other books can take away from the narrative but Alter uses them as they are intended, to enhance the story.
Even with all the background, "The Defining Moment" has a rather narrow focus. It does not bog down in the actual legislation which is a good thing Although, I would have like to have known more about the repeal of Prohibition. Instead the book's theme is on the relationships developed between Roosevelt and the various people he comes in contact .
His relationship with family, especially his mother, was definitely interesting. His relationship with his wife and children have been well chronicled with nothing really new to add. Nevertheless, I found the entire dynamic fascinating.
How FDR interacts with his political allies and foes is probably the most intriguing. How he keeps people off balance was certainly a political tightrope that few could walk. Both allies and foes come and go but FDR uses them as interchangable parts to fit his particular purpose.
Alter's contention that Roosevelt has forever changed the way we look at future Presidents hold strong merit. Every President is measured by their first 100 days. Every President now has to be media savvy, it is part of the job, and FDR's use of the newest mediam, radio, is the harbinger to that thought.
Easy read that is worth for $4.00 you can buy it on Amazon for right now.
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