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Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of… (2008)

por H. W. Brands

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A sweeping biography of the life and political career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt draws on archival materials, public speeches, interviews with family and colleagues, and personal correspondence to examine FDR's political leadership in a dark time of Depression and war, his championship of the poor, his revolutionary New Deal legislation, and his legacy for the future.… (mais)
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It was good to get a lot of gaps filled in... FDR was responsible for a lot of things that are still relevant today. I wish it had been way more critical, though. The author is in love with FDR. ( )
  mitchtroutman | Jun 14, 2020 |
5615. Traitor to His Class The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by H. W. Brands (read 11 Mar 2019) This is the sixth book by H. W. Brands I have read. It was published in 2005 and thus is newer than other FDR biographies I have read, such as the two volumes by Geoffrey Ward (which I read 15 Oct 1993 and 12 Sep 1995), Conrad Black's biography of FDR (which I read 4 Apr 2004) James McGregor Burns' 2 volume biography (which I read in May 2006) and Jean Edward Smith's biography (read 8 Aug 2009). I found reading this consistently good reading. It is pleasingly chronological which is always a feature I enjoy in a biography. Both the accounts of the New Deal years and of the war years are done with just the right amount of detail. Brands' approval of FDR is not slavish and he points out the flaws but overall his recital of the events is fair and in accord with what is true. The account of his death is poignant and took me back to that time, which I remember so vividly. ( )
  Schmerguls | Mar 11, 2019 |
Brands' biography of FDR is written in such a manner, that he intertwines the narrative of FDR's life, with natinoal and world events. Brands' approach weaves a narrative to where he argues that FDRs actions were influenced by such world and national events--before the 1930s and the Great Depression!
I personally did not see the connection between the title and the narrative itself; but that does not dissuade. ( )
  neobardling | Jul 29, 2017 |
Very good biography of FDR and his many talents. Although I very much liked the book I was disappointed that it did not do enough to describe the ideas of the people opposed to the FDR economic policies. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 13, 2016 |
Brand's Traitor to His Class is a highly fact-filled read on the political life of FDR. While the title suggests a more analytical approach, it is in fact a highly narrative one. Brand focuses a great deal on FDR during the New Deal period and less so on the WW2 period. Clearly this period was the one in which FDR was considered a "traitor" to his upper class roots but as Brand correctly shows, once the war began, FDR turned away from labor and towards big business. While this switch from "Dr. New Deal" towards "Dr. Win the War" was certainly an important part of FDR's approach, it seems evident that he was getting ready to turn once again towards the working class and the poor with his "Second Bill of Rights" proposals near the end of both his life and WW2.

As with most biographies of FDR, he comes across as a brilliant politician who was able to navigate a wide variety of interests with a contradictory combination of charm and brutal political shrewdness. FDR was an idealist only to a degree, using the Constitution when it suited him and discarding it when it did not - as evidenced in both the attempted packing of the Supreme Court and the later internment of Japanese Americans. He had a way of maintaining a balance between different individuals to allow the best outcome to come forth. While this way of working often drove his contemporary subordinates to distraction in domestic affairs, the book highlights this trait as an indispensable asset on the international stage. It is clear that a man with a different political style could have had a negative impact on international relations for years to come. As it was, and in spite of the Cold War, one finishes reading Brand's work being grateful to have had a person with FDR's temperament leading the United States during such a tumultuous and unpredictable time, despite his numerous contradictions and faults. ( )
  twp77 | Jun 9, 2015 |
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H.W. Brands, writes with an ease not common among academic historians...Brands revisits all the familiar material with a storyteller’s touch, making Traitor to His Class a good beginner’s book for readers seeking a fuller sense of FDR’s life and times than the entertainment media can provide. He also conveys a sense of the Roosevelt political genius at work.
 

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Franklin Roosevelt's Sunday morning began as most of his Sundays began: with a cigarette and the Sunday papers in bed. -- Prologue
Warren Delano spoiled all his children but Sara especially. - Chapter 1
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A sweeping biography of the life and political career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt draws on archival materials, public speeches, interviews with family and colleagues, and personal correspondence to examine FDR's political leadership in a dark time of Depression and war, his championship of the poor, his revolutionary New Deal legislation, and his legacy for the future.

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