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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor…
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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World…

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Amazing book. Perfect blend of the personal and political lives of the Roosevelts. ( )
  flippinpages | Nov 24, 2013 |
I read this almost 20 years ago, about the time it was published. At that time, I struggled through the book. I hadn’t done much reading about the World War II era and was unfamiliar with many of the players. This time, I truly enjoyed the book, breezed through it, amazed at the level of detail contained, and the strong writing. No wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize for history.

Although No Ordinary Time focuses on the lives of Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it gives a wonderful perspective on the home front during World War II – what was going on before, during and after the war to support the fighting men and defeat the Nazis and the Japanese. And it provides insight on an unusual partnership – FDR, who couldn’t get out easily because of the effects of polio, and the woman he sent out to gather facts for him. Of course, Eleanor was her own person. Her desire to fight for America’s underdogs, her independent nature – along with FDR’s own personality quirks and long-time love interest with Lucy Rutherfurd – were hard on the marriage. But it’s apparent they truly loved each other and worked together in the country’s best interest.

No Ordinary Time is a terrific read, researched to the nth degree and written with a journalistic approach. ( )
1 vote NewsieQ | Nov 11, 2013 |
A mammoth sized bio of the Roosevelt's leading up to and during WWII, fascinating on audiobook, though it took forever. I must admit, I quizzed my mother and father-in-law much of the time while listening to this. Peppering them with questions about what it was like back when they were teenagers during the war and what were their memories of FDR and Eleanor. I really enjoyed this! A must for anyone that's interested in this time period and FDR. Not much more to say than that! ( )
  ktleyed | Nov 1, 2013 |
This book truly deserves the 1995 Pulitzer Prize it won. It covers Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the United States only during the period of the build up to WWII and the war itself. We get a full picture of the United States during the war and the way the war changed so much in the United States (the roles of women, racial relationships for the Japanese and African Americans, manufacturing, and so many other things); the relationship and problems between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin; the relationships between FDR and his friends, advisors, and family; the relationships between Eleanor, FDR, and her friends and family; the role of the press in the 1940s; as well as the relationship between Eleanor and FDR, which can best be described as 'complex.' It took me a long time to finish this book, but I was fascinated by every page and I learned so much that I never knew before. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Aug 23, 2013 |
"Churchill once said that to encounter Franklin Roosevelt, with all his buoyant sparkle, his iridescent personality, and his inner elan was like opening your first bottle of champagne. Roosevelt genuinely liked people, he enjoyed taking responsibility, and he adored being president. Alone among our modern presidents, he had “ ‘no conception of the office to live up to, ‘” political scientist Richard Neustadt noted, “ ’he was it. His image of the office was himself-in-office.’” He did not have the time or the inclination for a melancholy contemplation of the “burdens” of the presidency. “ ‘Wouldn’t you be President if you could?” he once naively asked a friend. “ ‘Wouldn’t anybody?’ ”

Written in the exact same format as Team of Rivals, Goodwin once again does what she does best: teach history by telling a story. Just like my experience in reading TOR, I expected to learn a lot of things I had not known before and to be interested until the end. What surprised me was how enamored I became with the eccentric Roosevelts (especially Eleanor) and how entertaining this book was. All of the fiction writers in the world could not come up with a story this interesting!

No Ordinary Time starts on the evening of May 9, 1940. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, now in his second term in office, has just received the call that Hitler’s armies have simultaneously attacked Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and France. “The phony war” was over. Although this was not a big surprise to anybody, it was not a matter of if but when, the timing could not have been worse.

The United States, still nursing wounds and memories from World War I and the Great Depression, were reluctant to engage in another conflict. England, herself so unprepared for war, according to the author, were borrowing canons from museums! Compared to Germany’s military, the U.S. had nothing in terms of materiel and man power in terms of either quantity and quality. Compounding the situation further, many of the U.S. isolationists felt that the country was protected by the oceans. In his address to a joint session of Congress a week after the attacks, “Nearly a third of the president’s address was devoted to a skillful schoolmasterly description of the flying times from Greenland, the Azores, and the Caribbean Islands to key American cities, to show that, in an age of air warfare, despite the claims of the isolationists, the natural barriers of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans no longer afforded the same protection they had in the past … he warned that Nazi Germany not only had more planes than all its opponents combined, but appeared to have a weekly productive capacity that was far greater than that of its opponents. How could America respond to his alarming situation? Roosevelt’s answer was bold. He asked for … an additional half-million men for the army, to purchase guns and equipment, to build modern tanks, and to construct naval ships. The he made a dramatic call for a staggering productive capacity of fifty thousand planes a year, which would in only twelve months put America ahead of Germany, creating an aerial armada second to none in the world. ….According to Irving Holley, an army historian, “ ‘the President’s big round number was a psychological target to lift sights and accustom planners in military and industrial circles alike to thinking big.’ “

“To cope with present dangers, he admitted, the nation requires “ ‘a toughness of moral and physical fiber,’” but these are precisely “ ‘the characteristics of a free people, a people devoted to the institutions they themselves have built.’”

When he conveyed the idea that the country could rise up over the obstacles it faced, nobody could argue with him. Struck with polio as an adult and paralyzed because of it, everybody knew that Roosevelt had had his own uphill battles to climb. Under any other leader, with things looking so bleak, things may have turned out very differently. Roosevelt’s brilliance was the way he made the war everybody’s war. He expected the American people to pull together, take on the impossible and succeed, and they did. Isaiah Berlin wrote that “Roosevelt ‘believed that with enough energy and spirit anything could be achieved by man.’” His bedrock faith in the American people proved contagious. History shows that not only did the country of Roosevelt meet his expectations, but exceed them. Historian Bruce Catton tries to put it into perspective:

“ ‘Say we performed the equivalent of building two Panama Canals every month with a fat surplus to boot; that’s an understatement, it still doesn’t begin to express it all, the total is simply beyond the compass of one’s understanding. Here was displayed a strength greater even than cocky Americans in the old days of unlimited self-confidence had supposed; strength to which nothing – literally nothing, in the physical sense – was any longer impossible.’”

During the not-so-ordinary time of the Roosevelt administration, the White House itself wasn’t a typical White House, it was more of a hotel where guests of the President and/or the First Lady would come and stay, sometimes for years. Famously, one of the strongest friendships he ever enjoyed was with Winston Churchill. Brought together because of the war, the two seemed like they had been best friends all their lives. When spending time together personally, they would work very hard on the pressing issues of the war and then, when all that could be done was done, they would go off and play even harder. Both world leaders were very social and were very great conversationalists. Much to Eleanor’s dismay, both enjoyed a good stiff drink too. Roosevelt made friends quickly and seemed to thrive when surrounded by people who helped him in his work and who could help him relax. His wife didn’t fit into that latter group.

While FDR was a mix of hard work and hard play, it seemed his estranged wife was a case of hard work and no (at least hardly any) play. Many times the First Lady was on the go from the break of dawn to the next break of dawn! Eleanor Roosevelt came from wealth as well as FDR, but her childhood was not nearly as happy. Her alcoholic father, who adored her, died when she was young and her mother never seemed to approve of Eleanor. Growing up with a low sense of self-esteem, things changed when she went to England to school and met a teacher who praised Eleanor for her intelligence. She blossomed at that school. After marrying FDR, her confidence would falter again under her overbearing mother-in-law. FDR’s mother seemed to have a say in every aspect of the young Roosevelts’ life, even how the children were raised. Eleanor’s self-esteem plummeted. Her friendships with some other women (to her mother-in-law’s chagrin many of them lesbians, who FDR’S mother termed “she-men”), however, would prove an important fountain for her emerging self-confidence. Her friends encouraged her to teach (which she reluctantly gave up after going to the White House) and to write. Her column “My Day” appeared in thousands of newspapers six days a week across the country. When she discovered a lengthy affair FDR had been having in the early years of their marriage, instead of divorcing, which would have been “political suicide” for FDR (also rumor has it that his mother had vowed to disinherit him if he divorced), the two reinvented their “marriage.” They lived separate lives; yet there was a seemingly unbreakable bond of affection and mutual admiration between them. Eleanor was more than happy to serve as FDR’s legs and eyes out among the people. From FDR she learned how to look beyond the surface in a situation and get a real feel of how people were being treated. This became Eleanor’s cause: people, most notably those living on the fringes of society.

It made no sense to Eleanor to fight for democracy abroad but not at home. She was very concerned about the plight of the needy (and started her own community in the Appalachians), the African-American population, the role of women in the work force, the refugee children in England who needed a safe place to come during the war, and the displaced Jewish refugees. (Eleanor wanted to provide easier access for the displaced Jewish refugees here; but FDR thought the best way to help the Jewish population was simply win the war.) She was dead set against the internment camps for the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. She didn’t see the great social changes she wanted to, yet great strides were made, albeit painfully and slowly. The desegregation of the military and in the factory started in the WWII years. A lot of these changes came about because Eleanor Roosevelt lent her voice and position to these causes. She was well loved by many and hated by as many because of it. If FDR would be confronted about her, he would say “She’s my wife. I can’t do anything about her.” So, while President Roosevelt’s main focus remained outward - on how to win the war abroad; Eleanor focused inwardly – on how to win the war at home. It was a great balancing act and it worked.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only U.S. president to be elected for an unprecedented four terms. His death in April 1945, only a few months into his fourth term, (and sadly, only a few short weeks before the victory in Europe), sent the country into a state of mourning. Many teenagers and young adults of that era had not known any other President. “Those who had just reached the legal voting age of twenty-one in time for his fourth election had been only nine years old when he took the oath of office for the first time. Schoolgirl Anne Relph remembered riding her bicycle back to the playground after hearing that Roosevelt had died, “ ‘and feeling, as a child, that this was going to be the end of the world, because he was the only president I’d ever known. I was almost not aware that there could be another president. He had always been THE PRESIDENT, in capital letters. ‘”

“It may well be that a social revolution is not possible without war or violent internal upheaval. These provide a unity of purpose and an opportunity for change that are rarely preset in more tranquil times. But as the history of other countries and America’s own experience after World War I illustrates, war and revolution are no guarantee of positive social change. That depends on the time, the nation, and the exercise of leadership. In providing that leadership, Franklin Roosevelt emerges as the towering public figure of the twentieth century.”

5 Stars is not enough for this book that won Goodwin the Pulitzer Prize. ( )
11 vote avidmom | Jul 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doris Kearns Goodwinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On May 10, 1940, Hitler invaded Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France, bringing the "phony war" to an end, and initiating a series of events which led, almost inevitably, to America's involvement in history's greatest armed conflict.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671642405, Hardcover)

A compelling chronicle of a nation and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. With an uncanny feel for detail and a novelist's grasp of drama and depth, Doris Kearns Goodwin brilliantly narrates the interrelationship between the inner workings of the Roosevelt White House and the destiny of the United States. Goodwin paints a comprehensive, intimate portrait that fills in a historical gap in the story of our nation under the Roosevelts.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:44 -0400)

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Examines the Roosevelts' working partnership during the war years.

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