The Roosevelt Presence: A Biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Twayne's Twentieth-Century American Biography Series)

Maney, Patrick J.

Published by Twayne Pub
ISBN 10: 080577758X / ISBN 13: 9780805777581
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Synopsis: Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only twentieth century president commonly ranked by historians with the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. His leadership in the darkest hours of our history, the depression years and the Second World War, has endowed him in the eyes of many with an aura of unsurpassable greatness. His presidency has been the explicit or implicit model for all subsequent occupants of the White House from Truman to Bush. Moreover, popular expectations of what the president should do and be trace their origins to FDR's presidency. He remains, nearly five decades after his death, an enduring presence in American life. Like the Founders and the Great Emancipator, FDR as a historical figure is surrounded by a penumbra of mythology, indeed, of mystification, that has made his personality and presidency more enigmatic than they need be.
In this concise biography, Patrick J. Maney provides an original and insightful examination of Roosevelt's life and legacy. Maney carefully distinguishes fact from myth, and shows that many widely held ideas about Roosevelt - for instance, his supposed mastery of the legislative process, or the attribution to him of a cunningly pursued "master plan" - are unsupported by the historical evidence. More importantly, Maney shows how and why the Roosevelt legend arose, and how it has permanently affected the American presidency. Maney traces the origins of the "Roosevelt presence," his larger-than-life image, to his first term, when both friends and foes of the president began to attribute to him virtually superhuman feats. This image, which has persisted to this day, was rooted in Roosevelt's "knack for identifying himself in the public mind with the New Deal, including those measures to which he had originally been opposed or indifferent; in his matchless skills as a communicator; and most important, in his ability to create an illusion of intimacy between himself and the public." Maney concludes that FDR's legacy to his successors, despite his undoubted service to the nation in its hour of need and his many admirable qualities, is laden with irony and ambiguity. Perhaps most significantly, Roosevelt's legend has led the public to entertain unrealistic expectations of the presidency. Though Roosevelt was clearly a "great" president, Maney finds that FDR's greatness was inextricably rooted in the circumstances of his own time, and so could not be imitated, still less duplicated, by future presidents.

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Title: The Roosevelt Presence: A Biography of ...
Publisher: Twayne Pub
Book Condition: Acceptable

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