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Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3

Cover of Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3

Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3

The War Years and After, 1939-1962
One of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2016
One of NPR's 10 Best Books of 2016
"Heartachingly relevant...the Eleanor Roosevelt who inhabits these meticulously crafted pages transcends both first-lady history and the marriage around which Roosevelt scholarship has traditionally pivoted." — The Wall Street Journal
The final volume in the definitive biography of America's greatest first lady.


"Monumental and inspirational...Cook skillfully narrates the epic history of the war years... [a] grand biography." — The New York Times Book Review
Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR's death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt's death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues—economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue—when they were sidelined by FDR while he marshaled the country through war. The chasm between Eleanor and Franklin grew, and the strains on their relationship were as political as they were personal. She also had to negotiate the fractures in the close circle of influential women around her at Val-Kill, but through it she gained confidence in her own vision, even when forced to amend her agenda when her beliefs clashed with government policies on such issues as neutrality, refugees, and eventually the threat of communism. These years—the war years—made Eleanor Roosevelt the woman she became: leader, visionary, guiding light. FDR's death in 1945 changed her world, but she was far from finished, returning to the spotlight as a crucial player in the founding of the United Nations.
This is a sympathetic but unblinking portrait of a marriage and of a woman whose passion and commitment has inspired generations of Americans to seek a decent future for all people. Modest and self-deprecating, a moral force in a turbulent world, Eleanor Roosevelt was unique.
One of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2016
One of NPR's 10 Best Books of 2016
"Heartachingly relevant...the Eleanor Roosevelt who inhabits these meticulously crafted pages transcends both first-lady history and the marriage around which Roosevelt scholarship has traditionally pivoted." — The Wall Street Journal
The final volume in the definitive biography of America's greatest first lady.


"Monumental and inspirational...Cook skillfully narrates the epic history of the war years... [a] grand biography." — The New York Times Book Review
Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Blanche Wiesen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR's death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt's death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues—economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue—when they were sidelined by FDR while he marshaled the country through war. The chasm between Eleanor and Franklin grew, and the strains on their relationship were as political as they were personal. She also had to negotiate the fractures in the close circle of influential women around her at Val-Kill, but through it she gained confidence in her own vision, even when forced to amend her agenda when her beliefs clashed with government policies on such issues as neutrality, refugees, and eventually the threat of communism. These years—the war years—made Eleanor Roosevelt the woman she became: leader, visionary, guiding light. FDR's death in 1945 changed her world, but she was far from finished, returning to the spotlight as a crucial player in the founding of the United Nations.
This is a sympathetic but unblinking portrait of a marriage and of a woman whose passion and commitment has inspired generations of Americans to seek a decent future for all people. Modest and self-deprecating, a moral force in a turbulent world, Eleanor Roosevelt was unique.
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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 19, 2016
    In the third and concluding volume of this splendid biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, Cook doesn’t have to make a case for her subject. Roosevelt’s life and character do that well enough on their own. If there’s a theme to the volume, it’s the way Roosevelt moved out of her husband’s massive shadow during WWII to live an active, complex, and independent life well before F.D.R.’s death in 1945. All the while, she was part of “one of history’s most powerful and enduring partnerships”—a partnership of “mutual respect and shared commitments”—and she was often F.D.R.’s stand-in, though at other times she was silenced for political or security reasons. Always in Roosevelt’s corner, Cook skillfully weaves her subject’s active and emotional life among friends and family members into the depiction of her public role. The champion of human rights, the anti-Fascist, the foe of anti-Semites, the protector of the ill and infirm, the superb personal diplomat is everywhere in sight, as are Roosevelt’s sometimes-bitter disagreements with, and disappointments in, her husband. If there’s any criticism of this otherwise superb book, it’s that it simply peters out—at the end of these three fine volumes, readers look for and deserve a summation, a rounding-out, and Cook never provides one. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary.

  • Kirkus

    Having already devoted more than 1,200 pages to the extraordinary life of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) in two previous installments, the skilled biographer offers the final volume.Although the third book focuses on the period from 1939 to 1945, Cook (History/John Jay Coll., Graduate Center, CUNY; Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2, The Defining Years, 1933-1938, 1999, etc.) also covers the remainder of Roosevelt's meaningful accomplishments and personal relationships until her death in 1962. No hagiographer, the author presents Roosevelt's strained personal relationships, occasional passive-aggressive behavior, moral equivocations due to electoral politics, and other less-than-admirable qualities. Overall, though, Cook shows Roosevelt as empathetic to the less fortunate in both America and overseas, relentlessly optimistic about eventually achieving world peace, courageous in the face of personal danger, and almost superhumanly energetic until her final year. What may resonate most for contemporary readers is Roosevelt's crusade for greater racial harmony. She did not merely offer lip service to racial equality; she modeled it in her friendships and in the issues she promoted to Congress and her husband, despite widespread discrimination against blacks that showed no signs of abating. Cook notes that while outlining the current volume, she chose to develop the metatheme of the first lady obsessing about "race and rescue." Because most of the narrative unfolds during World War II, Cook amply examines Eleanor's efforts to influence the decisions of her husband. The president and Eleanor had to negotiate a rocky personal relationship due to his philandering and her unusual romantic liaisons, but as partners in politics, the mutual respect between them never wavered. The final pages about Eleanor's postwar activities seem overly telescoped, but that's a minor quibble in this outstanding work of biography. Cook makes a strong case that her subject is the most influential first lady in American history and even the most influential woman in world affairs since at least 1900. A winning concluding volume in a series that does for Eleanor Roosevelt what Robert Caro has done for Lyndon Johnson. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2016
    Published in 1992 and 1999, respectively, Volumes 1 and 2 of this monumental biography both received front-page coverage in the "New York Times Book Review" and went on to become "New York Times" best sellers. Here, Cook ranges from World War II to the death of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1962, showing how her closely held ideals increasingly bumped up against the realities of the war effort and of postwar politics.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3
Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3
The War Years and After, 1939-1962
Blanche Wiesen Cook
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