His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt

– – Tuesday, September 6, 2016

 

Readers are right to flinch whenever a book under review is called, “magisterial.”

Yet there is a certain majesty in the way author Joseph Lelyveld combines his long-honed reporting experience with a historian’s eye firmly fixed on this important story. In this case it is an exploration of the labyrinthine mind of Franklin D. Roosevelt as he enters the decline leading to his death on April 12, 1945 at his hideaway in Warm Springs, Ga.

Mr. Lelyveld’s story is important on several counts. With an impressive array of new archival evidence he challenges the long-lived slander that FDR gave away Eastern Europe to the tyrant Josef Stalin either because (as many old Cold Warriors swear) Roosevelt was a Communist dupe or, more plausibly, because he was unaware of his deteriorating health and could not focus on the critical Big Three negotiations that he, Winston Churchill and Stalin waged at Tehran in December 1943 and again in Yalta in February 1945.

Read more at the Washington Times

FDR’s New Deal brought jobs to Saddleback Valley

Sept. 1, 2016
By JANET WHITCOMB

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, aimed at reducing unemployment as well as providing services, initiated a number of oganizations. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Originally the CCC provided outdoor-based jobs such as soil conservation and firefighting for young men ages 18 to 21; later the age range would include 17- to 28-year-olds, as well as veterans.

On May 30, 1933, Company 545 became Orange County’s first CCC camp, headquartered in San Juan Capistrano. The following year, Company 545 was replaced by Company 912. In his 2014 book, “The New Deal in Orange County, California,” Charles Epting states that Company 912 worked with the local Works Progress Administration, another New Deal organization, to build San Juan Capistrano’s fire station. Company 912 also worked at Doheny and San Clemente state beaches, creating stone gutters, constructing campgrounds and building offices and other structures.

Read more at the Orange County Register

Eleanor and Hillary

Fri, 09/02/2016 – 8:38am

By JIM MCDIARMID

Querying friends and acquaintances about the 2016 presidential contest confirmed my conclusion that people are more interested in momentary circumstances than in historic context. My path to this notion went from John Galbraith’s recollection about Eleanor Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson’s wife, who essentially ran the United States during Wilson’s incapacitation after his disastrous stroke, and ended at Anne Firor Scott’s scholarly observations.

Anne Scott was Duke University’s W. K. Boyd professor of history and was awarded the Medal of Freedom during the Obama Administration. She knows women and history. She is herself a remarkable woman. I am familiar with people who know her but I cannot say if she has a favorite in the current race.

Disinterest in context is common in months just prior to a national election. Maybe it’s especially so during the current cat and dog fight. Indeed when I mentioned the comparison or contrast between prominent women such as Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt I was mostly met with blank looks as if their experiences weren’t important considerations.

Surprised by this I looked at some related literature such as the memoirs of John Galbraith and David Halberstam to see if I was mistaken in my recollections. I’m convinced that both women were similarly loved or hated because of their political leanings, their personalities and their relationships with powerful men. Obviously their separation by nearly three-fourths of a century complicates the pairing.

Read more at the Storm Lake Times

Tracing poignant, heroic last days of FDR

Book Review
By David M. Shribman Globe Correspondent September 02, 2016

We think of him as our longest-serving president, but oftentimes we forget that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was, at the moment the United States needed it most, also our most experienced president, the one most accustomed to the burdens and opportunities of the office, most aware of its limits, and most conscious of its broader role in American civic life.

Through four successful elections, a dozen years on the job, his political power and perspective grew amid the cauldron of worldwide depression and armed conflict, with civilization itself seeming in the balance. But over that period, too, FDR’S personal powers of physical vigor and mental clarity were diminishing.

When he died he was only in his early 60s, the second half of those three-score years full of physical discomfort from midlife polio, relentless political warfare from New Deal battles, and the grinding stress of global challenges. It took a great and grave toll. At the end he may have been the world’s best-known 63-year old, but he also was perhaps its weakest and weariest.

Those last months of FDR are the topic of “The Final Battle,” the gripping story masterfully told by Joseph Lelyveld, former executive editor of The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winning author (“Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White”).

Read more at the Boston Globe

Are Grand American Projects a Thing of the Past?

FDR_w_Gov_Merriam_Benbough_1935
By Ron Bonn | 4 p.m. Sept. 1, 2016

Carl Sandburg memorably called his beloved Chicago, the “City of the Big Shoulders.” The America I grew up in, and that I covered for television news over four historic decades, once was, in truth, the land of the big shoulders. It thought big, did bigger. No more. There has been, I think, a failure of nerve.

These ideas began with a recent steamboat voyage up the lovely Columbia and Snake River systems, through Oregon to Idaho. Our replica stern-wheeler, “American Pride,” locked through eight dams, climbing almost 800 feet across waters once unnavigable. Those dams were part of a vast system, begun under Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, with no small goal: to light the entire Pacific Northwest. Inside the first dam, the Bonneville, 18 dynamos spin endlessly as Columbia races to the Pacific. The infrastructure is immense — two giant power blocks, a spillway damming the entire river, locks, fish ladders. Fourteen great dams in all.

In those same years, in America’s opposite corner, another gargantuan New Deal project — the Tennessee Valley Authority. It may be a polluting nuisance today, but it dragged the rural southeastern United States out of the 19th century and into the 20th within a decade. And all of this was done by us — by government. FDR’s motivation was straightforward: To create jobs, salaries, in the midst of a devastating Depression. Folks who earned those wages would spend them — first, perhaps, on food and medicine, but then on cars, homes — all the time creating new jobs, creating, in fact, a new middle class.

Read more at the San Diego Union Tribune