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|FDR and the American crisis|
Author: Marrin, Albert
The biography of one of America's most intriguing, fascinating, and complex presidents, lionized by some and villainized by others, yet one of the greatest leaders our country has known.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 7.80
Points: 16.0 Quiz: 171385
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 9.20
Points: 21.0 Quiz: 65119
Kirkus Reviews (+) (10/15/14)
School Library Journal (+) (11/01/14)
Booklist (+) (11/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (02/15)
The Hornbook (00/01/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2014 *Starred Review* The “American Crisis,” as defined by Marrin, is the razed landscape of post–Roaring Twenties strife headlined by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression, which only the Second World War—not the ballyhooed New Deal—could fix. It’s a massive, thorny slab of history, but Marrin’s superpower is crystalline clarity. He begins with the young, privileged FDR, raised from a lineage made rich off of whale fat and opium. If that odd fact perked your interest, just wait: Marrin spikes his prose with keep-you-reading bits of esoterica (Depression-era mothers abandoning babies at animal shelters, German dogs taught to bark, “Mein Führer”). FDR, portrayed as a booming, brilliant sexist convinced of his myth before it was even written, becomes president as if preordained, and Marrin briskly depicts the courage he instilled within the populace in his first 100 days. His shining legacy—government’s expanded role in providing a social safety net—is contrasted with a murkier view of his wartime stewardship. Was he suckered by Stalin? Did he do all he could to help the Jews? In contrast to Marrin’s more concentrated works, such as Flesh and Blood So Cheap (2011), this strays from its protagonist for long stretches, and that will challenge readers. The payoff, though, is fantastic: frequent, illuminating photos; unimpeachable sourcing; and a breathtaking historical synthesis. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2014 Gr 8 Up—Marrin blends biography and history in this masterly overview of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's leadership in two of the most dangerous crises of the 20th century. His outstanding writing draws on primary sources and includes ample background and detail about Roosevelt's personal and public lives and lengthy descriptions of the people and events that defined his presidency. Marrin is highly objective about Roosevelt, portraying him as neither saint nor villain. He explains how Roosevelt's upbringing and class, battle with polio, and ever-present political instincts influenced his decisions and gave him the confidence to confront often-intractable dilemmas, relieve suffering during the Great Depression, and wage World War II. However, Marrin also discusses some of the negative results of FDR's choices, including the continuation of Jim Crow and his reluctance to support anti-lynching laws, the exclusion of Jewish refugees and a tepid response to the Holocaust, and the tragic miscalculation of his ability to influence Joseph Stalin's postwar aggression in Eastern Europe. The author includes some of his own memories of FDR and concludes that the man deserves his historical rating as a great president. High-quality black-and-white photos in a clean layout enhance the text, and documentation is meticulous. This book far surpasses most extant titles about Roosevelt and provides a more nuanced evaluation of his life and presidency than titles such as Sudipta Bardhan-Quallin's Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A National Hero (Sterling, 2007). It will help readers better understand one of our most fascinating and influential presidents, and it deserves a place in all secondary collections.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2015 In the introduction to this ambitious and sprawling biography, Marrin lays out a number of questions that arise from the “hard, even morally doubtful decisions” that Franklin Roosevelt made throughout his presidency. Teens who are politically engaged-or at least aware of national news-will readily discern that understanding FDR will take them a long way toward understanding hot-button questions in contemporary governance. As Marrin demonstrates, however, understanding Roosevelt is no easy matter. Readers meet the son smothered by motherly love, who learns early on to smile broadly and do exactly what he wants. They meet a disengaged student, a dilettante career-hopper, an adulterous husband, a charming but emotionally distant father, and above all, a savvy politician with a gift for schmooze and the hubris to believe himself capable of tackling any crisis, including the Great Depression and World War II. As in his biography of John Brown (A Volcano Beneath the Snow, BCCB 4/14), Marrin refrains from passing judgment but presents his subject at his best and worst and guides readers to draw their own conclusions. Any reader willing to take on nearly three hundred pages of double-?columned text, however, is unlikely to need the lengthy chapters of background history, which often leave FDR on the sidetrack of his own story. The narrative also stumbles and stalls from time to time as Marrin pauses to explain quotations, or to include entertaining vignettes that carry the whiff of apocrypha. Although this may be a daunting undertaking for students with only casual interest in the thirty-second president, the breadth of coverage, notes, bibliography, and index will make it a useful resource for researchers. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.