Eleanor Roosevelt

Cook, Blanche Wiesen. Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One 1884-1933. New York: Viking, 1191.

I think it goes without saying that Eleanor Roosevelt was a fascinating person both in and out of the political arena. What astounds me the most is how Cook could write such a thorough biography despite so much of Eleanor’s personal correspondence either lost or destroyed. I am in awe of what Cook could have done if she had everything ER had ever written or was written to her. Here’s what we do know – research has concluded that Eleanor had an unhappy childhood. She grew up shy and awkward. She a cold mother who died when Eleanor was eight and a father who was practically nonexistent. Research also supports her unhappy marriage to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who was clearly a mama’s boy and did nothing to hide his adulterous indiscretions. And yet, they made it work. All of Eleanor’s political and humanitarian endeavors and alliances are carefully documented. All the facts about Eleanor Roosevelt as a historical icon are there. But what Cook is able to illustrate in meticulous detail is Mrs. Roosevelt’s courageous, determined, caring personality. Once ER found independence she sought to better herself at every chance she got. She surrounded herself with men and women who would become lifelong friends. There is so much detail to Cook’s biography that you feel as though you’ve just had a conversation with Eleanor herself about her life’s work. My only complaint? As an “out” lesbian I felt Cook was trying too hard to find the lesbian angle with ER’s relationship with Lorena Hickok, among others.

Interesting line, “She knew it was possible to freeze the heart away” (p 217). An example of how little times have changed: “ER deplored the fact that Republican policies protected “big business and industry,” not the individual on the farm or in the family store” (p 403).

Reason read: Eleanor Roosevelt was born the in the month of September.

Author Fact: Cook published Volume Two of ER’s biography in 2000.

Book Trivia: Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt has been called “one of the best.”

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “People You Ought To Meet” (p 184).


Sept ’12 is…

September 2012 started in Colorado. It was nice to disappear for a week! Here are the books:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook ~ in honorĀ  of Roosevelt’s birth month
  • American Ground: the Unbuilding of the World Trade Center by William Langewicshe ~ in remembrance of September 11, 2001. I will be listening to this on audio.
  • Tear Down the Mountain by Roger Alan Skipper ~ in honor of an Appalachian fiddle festival that takes place in September.
  • The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper ~ in honor of boys going back to school.
  • Ariel: the Life of Shelley by Andre Maurois ~ in honor of National Book Month.
  • Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl ~ in honor of a kid named Matt who was deemed a hero in September.

So. That’s the Challenge plan. For other books I have been told I won two Early Review books from LibraryThing but since I haven’t seen them I won’t mention them here. My aunt wants me to deliver a book to mom so I, of course, read it on the way home from Colorado so it’s already finished: To Heaven and Back: a Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again by Mary C. Neal, MD. It was an amazing book.