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Subject: Definitive F.D. Roosevelt biography rss

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Jan van der Laan
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After having read Ian Kershaw's 2 volumes biography of A. Hitler, purchasing Martin Gilberts biography of W.S. Churchill I'm now looking for a biography of F.D. Roosevelt, comparable to the above mentioned. Can you guys help me out and give me an advise?
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Bill VanderGiesen
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You could try Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s Three Volume Age of Roosevelt, but it only goes from 1919-1936. He never finished the rest. I seem to recall enjoying it, but it was a long time ago in graduate school.
 
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Bill the Pill
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I doubt there is or will ever be a "definitive" bio of FDR. I find it best to read bios of him based on the different roles. So for foreign relations, a good place to start (but by no means definitive) would be Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 by Robert Dallek. For a full bio, I got a kick out of James MacG. Burns two part bio.
Enjoy--I've been doing research on FDR's administration(s) for better than twenty years. He (and the era) and his fellow politicians, diplomats, and military men are fascinating.
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Roger Hobden
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I found this book very interesting:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
by Conrad Black

When it came out, The Economist said that it was "the best single-volume biography on FDR".

The book deals heavily with the in's and out's of various economic measures and debates of the era and how they were supposed to help or hinder the struggle against The Great Depression.

Most of this material was very new to me, and after reading the biography I found myself with a better framework to understand that part of american history, taking into account who the author is. I had read his thesis on the life of Maurice Duplessis when it came out in book form. Quebec historians still consider it for the most part a valid and reliable source.

I personally have no special admiration for the actions taken by Conrad Black during the past decade or so. However, BGG members might be interested to know that he was (and may still be) a wargamer (miniatures, I believe).
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Jan van der Laan
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Thanks for the recommendations! As I understand there is not a Martin Gilbert or an Ian Kershaw (or for that matter an Alan Bullock or a John Toland) that wrote the "definitive" biography of F.D. Roosevelt (and that surprises me highly). I will do some research on te abovementioned titles/authors and decide what will be the one to purchase.

One of the other books on my "to-read" pile is Max Hastings' The finest years which describes Winston Churchill during the 1940-1945 period. Isn't there something comparable about F.D. Roosevelt? Being one of the main warleaders of WW2 I should guess there will be several works about FDR during these deciding years.

Edit: typo.
 
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Laurence Gillespie

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I'll second your recommendation regarding Black's FDR:Champion of Freedom. It is absolutely brilliant in my opinion.
 
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Jan van der Laan
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I'll take this recommendation in consideration. Thanks.
 
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Thomas Marshall
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Jan van der Laan wrote:
I'll take this recommendation in consideration. Thanks.


And I'll second Jan's thanks. I read Jean Edward Smith's FDR Bio and it was so readable, I didn't think I'd need to read another. After slogging through Black's bio on Nixon, I wasn't thinking I'd need to try another of his tomes. Looks like I need to give his FDR a serious look.
 
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Bill the Pill
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Jan van der Laan wrote:

One of the other books on my "to-read" pile is Max Hastings' The finest years which describes Winston Churchill during the 1940-1945 period. Isn't there something comparable about F.D. Roosevelt? Being one of the main warleaders of WW2 I should guess there will be several works about FDR during these deciding years.

Edit: typo.

As I said, James MacG. Burns's Roosevelt - The Soldier Of Freedom - 1940-1945 is a fine place to start.
 
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Harrison Chadd
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This might not be helpful, but sometimes I find that reading "around" the figure in question is the best way to get a more 360 view. For example, in Caro's magnificent "Power Broker", about NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (which should be required reading for anybody interested in or actually working in city/state politics), I picked up a LOT of new stuff about FDR that I hadn't really seen anywhere else, or that had been skimmed over elsewhere. Notably some of the uglier elements to his personality.
 
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