Becoming FDR: Book summary and reviews of Becoming FDR by Jonathan Darman

Becoming FDR

The Personal Crisis That Made a President

by Jonathan Darman

Becoming FDR by Jonathan Darman X
Becoming FDR by Jonathan Darman
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  • Published Sep 2022
    448 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

In popular memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential political "natural." Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family and blessed with an abundance of charm and charisma, he seemed destined for high office.

Yet for all his gifts, the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and an ability to think strategically. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his seven-year journey through illness and recovery.

Becoming FDR traces the riveting story of the struggle that forged Roosevelt's character and political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921 at the age of thirty-nine, the former failed vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down. He spent much of the next decade trying to rehabilitate his body and adapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage in 1928 as the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become compassionate and shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to inspire listeners and to reach them through a new medium—radio. Suffering cemented his bond with those he once famously called "the forgotten man." Most crucially, he had discovered how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation—a skill that he employed to motivate Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The polio years were transformative, too, for the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor, and for Eleanor herself, who became, at first reluctantly, her husband's surrogate at public events, and who grew to become a political and humanitarian force in her own right.

Tracing the physical, political, and personal evolution of the iconic president, Becoming FDR shows how adversity can lead to greatness, and to the power to remake the world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Franklin Roosevelt's struggle with paralysis made him a great president, according to this searching biographical study...Written in elegant, evocative prose—'The accent was the same, a honking aristocratic lockjaw charmingly discordant with the plain words it pronounced. But his voice was deeper, more grounded, more sure'—this insightful portrait convincingly grounds Roosevelt's public achievements in painful private experience. Readers will be riveted." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A welcome, insightful addition to the literature surrounding FDR." - Kirkus Reviews

"This fascinating story of how Franklin D. Roosevelt was forged by polio is a moving personal drama. More than that, it's a valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face." - Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci

"Franklin D. Roosevelt has been a strangely elusive figure to biographers, but he comes vividly to life in Jonathan Darman's moving and insightful portrait. A gifted historian and writer, Darman has given us a parable of redemption through suffering, a sensitive portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating study of the acquisition of power. This is the gripping story of how a lightweight playboy became a great world leader." - Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O'Connor

"With superb insight into human nature, Jonathan Darman has written a compelling and illuminating account of how a battle with a virus shaped the life of the man to whom the fate of everything would fall. Franklin D. Roosevelt's struggles with polio steeled him for the great struggles of the Depression and of World War II, and Darman tells that story in vivid and convincing detail." - Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

This information about Becoming FDR was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jonathan Darman

Jonathan Darman is the author of Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America. He is a former correspondent for Newsweek, where he covered national politics, including John Kerry's and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns.

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