Confident. The latest book by historian H.W. Brands of the University of Texas is a flattering and readable biography of FDR titled, Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I don’t know if there’s much new on these pages, but I can attest that I enjoyed thoroughly all that I read. FDR’s irrepressible confidence exudes from most pages, and his wily craftiness when dealing with just about everyone adds to the joy of reading about this American president. Given the title, I expected a special focus in this book on the animosity of America’s wealthy toward FDR. In many respects, that was a background item: he knew where he came from, and proceeded with confidence to do what he thought needed to be done, no matter how much opposition it created among the most privileged citizens. Brands does an excellent job in deconstructing the complicated relationship between Franklin and Eleanor, in expanding on how FDR’s battle with polio strengthened him, and on the ways in which he drew out the skills of others to get done what could be done. I kept waiting for one of my favorite lines from an FDR speech to appear, but alas it did not. That line was when the patrician Roosevelt began his address to the Daughters of the American Revolution with the line, “Fellow immigrants…” I highly recommend Traitor to His Class to any reader interested in FDR, history, or the challenges of the mid-twentieth century.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)