Blanche Wiesen Cook
Adult Nonfiction E807.1.R48C66 1992
Summary: With her award-winning national bestseller, Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume I, 1884-1933 (Penguin), historian Blanche Wiesen Cook gave us an unprecedented portrait of one of the most admired and controversial women in modern history. Celebrated by historians, feminists, politicians, and reviewers everywhere, Cook''s illuminating, forthright evaluation of Eleanor Roosevelt freed the inspiring, influential former First Lady from decades of rumor, myth, and distortion. According to the Los Angeles Times, Cook depicted "an Eleanor Roosevelt who is a fully human woman - often brilliant, sometimes cold, from time to time inept, frequently baffled, on occasion deeply hurt, but always working her way toward greater clarity of mind and generosity of spirit."Now, in the long-awaited Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume II, 1933-1938, Blanche Wiesen Cook charts Eleanor Roosevelt''s personal and political growth as she moved beyond the confines of loyal helpmate and congenial hostess to reinvent the role of First Lady. Cook draws on historical archives, FBI and State department documents, interviews, and a wealth of personal letters to depict ER''s enormous influence during the great depression and new deal years. This is the first biography to examine her correspondence with government agencies and to document the concrete contributions she made to the New Deal. It also questions why ER, who knew of Hitler''s actions from the beginning--as detailed here for the first time-- remained silent as Europe faced brutal Facist victories.Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume II, 1933-1938 offers an entirely new and compelling look at Eleanor Roosevelt''s life and times. Forty-eight when she entered the White House, she became, according to Cook, "a bellwether and key to the enduring controversies of the twentieth century." Plunging into the political fray, she championed a New Deal for women, upset race traditions, and on certain issues actually ran a parallel administration. ER brought the goals of the pioneers of social justice in America--Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, Florence Kelley, Alice Hamilton, and Carrie Capman Catt--directly to the White House, putting their reforms at the forefront of the national agenda. She forged new alliances with integrationists and race radicals, including NAACP leader Walter White, educator and founder of the National Council of Negro Women Mary McLeod Bethune, Lucy Randolph Mason, Aubrey Williams, and Virginia Durr. Her groundbreaking press conferences (for women journalists only), popular syndicated column, "My Day," radio addresses, and speeches tackled political controversies in a way unheard of for a president''s wife, often challenging her husband''s policies.In Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume II, 1933-1938, we witness ER''s political maneuverings, triumphs and failures as an outspoken civil rights activist who unsuccessfully urged passage of a federal anti-lynching bill, and as a champion of reforms for the poor, including Arthurdale, an experimental homestead community for destitute mining families in West Virginia. A advocate for U.S. entrance into the World Court, ER often opposed FDR on international issues, particularly his alliance with William Randolph Hearst and other isolationists. As a staunch anti-fascist, she, long before FDR and most of his advisers, publicly connected racism in the U.S. with facism in Hitler''s Europe. Volume II illustrates how the Roosevelts lived increasingly separate lives, with the White House not unlike a feudal manor house: allied in purpose but with competing courts.We are also made privy to ER''s private side. A lover of adventure, who once flew over Washington, D.C., in a plane piloted by Amelia Earhart, she was a passionate woman who found comfort in her romantic, often turbulent, friendship with Lorena Hickok (Hick). Volume II shows how Hick served ER as chief investigator and adviser concerning the Depression''s social impact. Their correspondence allows us to follow their intense emotional journey against the larger political story.Here, too, are ER''s ongoing relationships with both her intimate friends and the wide-ranging feminist network of activist women and political men who accompanied her throughout the White House years and beyond, including Earl Miller, Malvina (Tommy) Thompson, Louis Howe, Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman, Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read. With the never-before-told story of ER''s 12-year defense of her head housekeeper, Henrietta Nesbitt, who exhibited contempt for the desires of the president and often served bland and unappetizing meals, we see an outward expression of ER''s passive-aggressive behavior towards her husband. And, as ER''s public life demanded more of her time, her yearning for privacy is evidenced by the hideaway she established in a Greenwich Village walk-up that she rented from Esther Lape.Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume II, 1933-1938 is a unique contribution to our understanding of one of the most important women in our country''s history, whose life and accomplishments are indelibly linked to world and national events. Today, as the world struggles with the same issues that challenged Eleanor Roosevelt, her life provides an inspiration for the continuing fight against the forces of ignorance, poverty, racism, and war. She remains a galvanizing force for activism and political commitment. Cook writes, "To contemplate her life of action and determination, is to reconsider the role of popular movements everywhere growing, reorganizing, still and again dedicated to a politics of care, love and justice."
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