Sunday, April 20, 2008

Franklin and Lucy by Joseph E. Persico

While Franklin Roosevelt's official circle was predominantly male, it was FDR's relationships with women - in particular with Lucy Rutherfurd - that best reveal the human being beneath this towering statesman. In Franklin and Lucy, Joseph E. Persico explores FDR's long-term romance with Lucy. Persico's provocative conclusions about the relationship are informed by a revealing range of sources, including never-before-published letters and documents from Lucy Rutherfurd's estate that attest to the unrecognized scope of the affair. Persico also takes a meaningful look at the other women in Roosevelt's life, including his wife, Eleanor; his "surrogate spouse," Missy LeHand; and the obscure Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, his close confidante. In focusing on Lucy Rutherfurd and the other women who mattered in Roosevelt's life, Joseph Persico paints a more intimate portrait than we have heretofore had of this enigmatic giant of American history.

Not knowing more about the Roosevelts than both are great figures in American history I found this book interesting and very readable. It gives readers an inside look at the relationship between Franklin and Eleanor and how with it many twists and turns it allowed them each to become the great leaders they were. Their relationship, overall, appears to be one of two very strong minded individuals who came together not out of love but out of mutual respect and forged a relationship that allowed them to move beyond the confines of the traditional, conventional relationship of their time.

While a book of this type, is to some degree, based on conjecture as we weren't there and intimately involved with the subjects this isn't a gossipy tell all. The author has incorporated many well researched sources from family members to personal confidantes. It's a well written, fact-based biography citing conversations, journal entries, memoirs and letters between Franklin and Eleanor and their close circle.


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