Francis Meyrick

Would the real Franklin Delano Roosevelt please stand up?

Posted on January 20, 2009

Would the real Franklin Delano Roosevelt please stand up? (1)

January 19th, 2009

I decided today to start keeping a log on my attempts to get to know President Franklin Roosevelt.
The greatest president ever. A hero for millions. Invoked by Hillary Clinton. And Mr Barry.
I ask myself why I want to keep a log. I think I kind of know why. Secret Guilt. Because I don’t want to be prejudiced, but I’m really increasingly disliking the fellow. And his heirs apparent. It would be nice if somebody would help me discover something lovable about FDR.
Hell, even likable would do.

My dislike really got going in late 2001 or so, when I first read “The New Dealers’ War ” by Thomas Fleming. I had already some suspicions before that. However, that book annoyed me intensely. I guess my frustrated former pacifism was coming out. To phrase my thoughts diplomatically, I guess my considered, balanced, erudite opinion was something along the lines of:

“What… a devious, two faced, underhanded slime ball. What kind of a rat would go against the overwhelmingly majority of the American people (70 to 90%, depending on the various Gallup polls) and conspire, connive, lie, and manipulate to further his end, namely to propel America in to World War 2? By trickery and distortions? And why? To deflect attention from his ruinously failing New Deal policies? To further his own ego? Because he had a Messianic complex? Or just for the love of chicanery? To win, to be the best, to tower above all around him? “

I calmed down a bit, and it seemed I should read some more. Maybe Fleming was just a snake potion huckster trying to sell his miserable flea bitten book. I should read the ‘other side’. I should explore further. So I read other books. However, “FDR’s Folly ” by Jim Powell, and “New Deal or Raw Deal ” by Burton Folsom intervened, and embittered me further.
(I have reviews on these books on
I was more and more convinced FDR was the worst president ever in the history of the United States.
But wait, maybe I was being deceived. You can’t trust everything you read. Explore further, a voice said to me.
So, again on, I posted a reading request in the forum of “Great Depression “. I asked the question:
“What would be a balanced bibliography on FDR…….? ”

On FDR, I’ve recently read “New Deal or Raw Deal “, “FDR’s Folly “, “The New Dealers’ War “, and “Day of Deceit “. So far, I’m most unimpressed with the gentleman, but I’m willing to research further. What am I missing? To balance out my reading, what pro-FDR books should I read? I’m thinking of writing a novel as a sequence to my “Jeremy’s war ” which would feature the FDR era. Trying to get a balanced picture.

I received a kind reply from “Chimonsho “. Maybe he felt sorry for me. His post said:

Many recent books on FDR & the New Deal are the tail end of Bush-era reaction. They add some provocative insights but are usually considered rather ideological. For more objective views, the following have their own biases but are classics acknowledged by professional historians & educated public.
—JM Burns, Roosevelt (2 vols)–very impressive but written before many key sources were open
—Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt–enormous; has more detail than any 1-vol work. By a conservative who nevertheless has a balanced view of FDR
—R Sherwood, Roosevelt & Hopkins–unsurpassed for its inside view. Re Hopkins, imagine if Karl Rove had been a social worker, & had a conscience
—E Larrabee, Commander In Chief–eloquent study of FDR at war, with good chapters on military leaders. Esp good on Marshall
—E Cray, General of the Army–best biog of George Marshall & a good lens for seeing FDR. “One of his finest & most consequential choices. ” [Larrabee]
—S Terkel, Hard Times—memorable oral history of Great Depression
—R McElvaine, The Great Depression–well-respected scholarly survey of GD

I was quite taken with that. Some guidance! Goodie. Now I could go forth a little less blinkered.
I wasn’t sure what “the tail end of bush-era reaction ” meant. But as I was obviously supposed to know, I didn’t want to admit my pathetic ignorance, so I didn’t ask.

A quick perusal of other people’s reviews on Chimonsho’s choices, seems to show these books are either pro FDR, or more neutral. That sounds like what I need to go and read. Hell, I might even be able to like the dude a bit. Millions of other people do. Some positively revere him. The Irish-American Catholics of his time hung his picture beside the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Heck, maybe they still do.
Yes, I should at least be able to like him a bit. Surely. My Irish mother, God rest the poor woman’s soul, would finally be proud of me.
To be sure.

Well, here’s hoping…


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on January 22, 2009, 4:32 am

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