Visionary. Something about Franklin Delano Roosevelt led Louis Howe to conclude that he could become President of the United States, and Howe devoted two decades of his life to making that happen. Julie Fenster’s new book, FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force That Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, credits Howe with making both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt excellent politicians. This is a well documented story, based on many primary records, including the personal papers of Louis Howe that were released to the public by the FDR Library in 2006. Until I read this book, I had noted Howe as part of the Roosevelt team, and considered him as a secondary player, perhaps because his death in 1936 preceded the majority of Roosevelt’s time in office as President. Thanks to Fenster, I now have a greater appreciation of the role that Howe played in the formation of FDR as a master politician and leader, and in the important way he helped Eleanor find her place in the public arena. FDR’s Shadow is a well written account of the time and the players, and reminded me of the value and importance of candid friends who can communicate freely with leaders who need to listen to voices different from their own.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)