Franklin D. Roosevelt
Road to the New Deal, 1882-1939
University of Illinois Press 2015
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network June 2, 2016 Mark Klobas
For all that has been written about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, many misconceptions about the man and his achievements continue to persist. Roger Daniels seeks to correct these in a new two-volume biography of the 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt: Road to the New Deal, 1882-1939 (University of Illinois Press, 2015), and Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945 (University of Illinois Press, 2016). Drawing upon Roosevelt’s speeches, press conferences, and other statements, Daniels argues that Roosevelt was not the second-class intellect deemed by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. but a person of considerable intellectual ability who possessed a mastery of not just politics but administration as well. When it came to formulating both domestic and foreign policy Daniels credits Roosevelt as being oriented towards the future in ways unlike many of his contemporaries. This emphasis plays a role in shaping national policy not just on the prominent issues such as the role of the government in the economy but on questions of race and immigration as well, both of which undergo slow but significant shifts during his presidency. The looming threat of war in Europe widened Roosevelt’s scope, and Americas entry into the struggle in 1941 brought with it the opportunity to establish the mechanisms to avoid such global conflicts from happening again. It is thanks to Roosevelt’s focus and his determination to realize his vision, Daniels concludes, that establishes the saliency of his presidency for us today.