Eleanor: Book summary and reviews of Eleanor by David Michaelis

Eleanor

by David Michaelis

Eleanor by David Michaelis X
Eleanor by David Michaelis
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2020
    720 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Prizewinning bestselling author David Michaelis presents a breakthrough portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, America's longest-serving First Lady, an avatar of democracy whose ever-expanding agency as diplomat, activist, and humanitarian made her one of the world's most widely admired and influential women.

In the first single-volume cradle-to-grave portrait in six decades, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis delivers a stunning account of Eleanor Roosevelt's remarkable life of transformation. An orphaned niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, she converted her Gilded Age childhood of denial and secrecy into an irreconcilable marriage with her ambitious fifth cousin Franklin. Despite their inability to make each other happy, Franklin Roosevelt transformed Eleanor from a settlement house volunteer on New York's Lower East Side into a matching partner in New York's most important power couple in a generation.

When Eleanor discovered Franklin's betrayal with her younger, prettier social secretary, Lucy Mercer, she offered a divorce and vowed to face herself honestly. Here is an Eleanor both more vulnerable and more aggressive, more psychologically aware and sexually adaptable than we knew. She came to accept FDR's bond with his executive assistant, Missy LeHand; she allowed her children to live their own lives, as she never could; and she explored her sexual attraction to women, among them a star female reporter on FDR's first presidential campaign, and younger men.

Eleanor needed emotional connection. She pursued deeper relationships wherever she could find them. Throughout her life and travels, there was always another person or place she wanted to heal. As FDR struggled to recover from polio, Eleanor became a voice for the voiceless, her husband's proxy in presidential ambition, and then the people's proxy in the White House. Later, she would be the architect of international human rights and world citizen of the Atomic Age, urging Americans to cope with the anxiety of global annihilation by cultivating a "world mind." She insisted that we cannot live for ourselves alone but must learn to live together or we will die together.

Drawing on new research, Michaelis's riveting portrait is not just a comprehensive biography of a major American figure, but the story of an American ideal: how our freedom is always a choice. Eleanor rediscovers a model of what is noble and evergreen in the American character, a model we need today more than ever.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) were widespread and substantial, and her trailblazing actions in support of social justice and global peace resonate powerfully in our current moment...A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[C]ompulsively readable...Michaelis's clear-eyed but sympathetic portrayal, enhanced by a crisp writing style, brings Roosevelt's personality and achievements into sharp focus. This jam-packed biography is a must-read for 20th-century history buffs." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Michaelis blazes through Eleanor's many years in the White House and spends little time investigating her evolving political and social conscience, as well as the important figures and activists who influenced her. He dwells overlong on her final illness and decline...Roosevelt's life does not necessarily lend itself well to concision. Blanche Wiesen Cook's excellent volumes remain the definitive record." - Library Journal

"This is the perfect biography for our times: the story of a determined woman who willed herself to become a voice for the voiceless, a fighter for freedom, and a tribune for the nobility of America's true values. This comprehensive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, filled with new information, portrays her in all of her glorious complexity. It's a wonderful read with valuable lessons about leadership, partnership, and love." - Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo Da Vinci

"David Michaelis has brought us a fresh, luminous, gripping and beautifully written account of a great American life, whose meaning and lessons are now more important and relevant than ever. Especially in these times, it is a gift for us to be able to rediscover Eleanor Roosevelt." - Michael Beschloss, author of Presidents of War

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Author Information

David Michaelis

David Michaelis is the bestselling author of Schulz and Peanuts and N.C. Wyeth, which won the Ambassador Book Award for Biography. He lives in New York with his wife and family.

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