Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America's Greatest Political Family


Today's nonfiction post is on The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America's Greatest Political Family by William J. Mann. It is 640 pages long and is published by Harper. The cover is is divided with pictures of different Roosevelts on top and the author's name on bottom. The intended reader is someone who is interested in history with great writing. There is mild foul language, talk of sexuality, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Drawing on previously hidden historical documents and interviews with the long-silent “illegitimate” branch of the family, William J. Mann paints an elegant, meticulously researched and groundbreaking group portrait of this legendary family. Mann argues that the Roosevelts’ rise to power and prestige was actually driven by a series of intense, personal contests that at times devolved to blood sport. His compelling and eye-opening masterwork is the story of a family at war with itself, of social Darwinism at its most ruthless—in which the strong devoured the weak and repudiated the inconvenient.
Mann focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, who, he argues, experienced this brutality firsthand, witnessing her Uncle Theodore cruelly destroy her father, Elliott—his brother and bitter rival—for political expediency. Mann presents a fascinating alternate picture of Eleanor, contending that this “worshipful niece” in fact bore a grudge against TR for the rest of her life, and dares to tell the truth about her intimate relationships without obfuscations, explanations, or labels.
Mann also brings into focus Eleanor’s cousins, TR’s children, whose stories propelled the family rivalry but have never before been fully chronicled, as well as her illegitimate half-brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, who inherited his family’s ambition and skill without their name and privilege. Growing up in poverty just miles from his wealthy relatives, Elliott Mann embodied the American Dream, rising to middle class prosperity and enjoying one of the very few happy, long-term marriages in the Roosevelt saga. For the first time, The Wars of the Roosevelts also includes the stories of Elliott’s daughter and grandchildren and never-before-seen photographs from their archives.
Deeply psychological and finely rendered, illustrated with sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs, The Wars of the Roosevelts illuminates not only the enviable strengths but also the profound shames of this remarkable and influential family.

Review- Another great book from Mann. We start at the end of Eleanor's life as she tries to put her life and the lives of her family into some kind focus before she dies. From there we travel back with her beginning of the trouble between her father and his brother, T.R. That event is what shapes her life in this account. From there we forward as T.R. becomes president, Eleanor marrying Franklin, the first World War, the depression that made Franklin president, and beyond. With some moments we see what happened to Eleanor's illegitimate brother. If you enjoyed the PBS series on the Roosevelts, then you will like this book too. Mann gives excellent notes that back up this version.  I really enjoyed this book.

I give this book a Five out Five stars. I was given this book to review by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.