Monday, September 19, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching and Self Discovery by Ann Atkins

Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching and Self DiscoveryThis is a very short biography, not a long and drawn out 500 page thing. It tells the need to know information about Eleanor. By need to know, I mean:

Where she came from: A very dysfunctional family. Her father was a womanizer and a suicidal alcoholic. Her mother felt that she was ugly and did not make a secret of it. Imagine growing up in that environment.

How she rose above it: Went to boarding school, dealt with the death of her parents, slowly began to find herself when she met Franklin and it all came crashing down. She married a man much like her father.
She was a doormat for a long time: to Franklin's mother and Franklin himself. It took a betrayal by Franklin and her best friend to make her wake up and begin being just Eleanor again. Unfortunately, in a way, she lost her children to her mother in law.

She stood up for the little people: She stood up for women:

"Eleanor not only conducts her own press conferences, she flaunts the 'men only' rule at press conferences with Franklin, making hers only for women journalists.Since newspapers want to carry stories about Eleanor, this policy give job assurance for many female reporters. What critics deem conniving, Eleanor sees as leveling the playing field."

She stood up for African Americans in her speeches, her policies, and her actions:

"As she is leaving her hairdresser, an African American youth backs his car into her and knocks her down. This being 1959 Eleanor doesn't want to chance a racial incident and tell the young man to hurry on before people can gather."

She supported the troops during the war:

"She walks to each truck load and wishes the boys good luck. On that day, Eleanor's unpretentious ways make her every soldier's mother. Upholding the written rule, "Don't cry in front of the boys," she bids them each farewell. Although those with Eleanor report, "her voice quavered."
Conclusion: An enlightening biography of a woman who rose from a twisted home to make something of herself and change the world. (Great photos in here too.) Four stars due to one minor annoyance that I found a tad odd for a biography: the use of the present tense. 

I received this book from the author.

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