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The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006)

de Jonathan Alter

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6101832,738 (4.09)33
This is the story of a political miracle--the perfect match of man and moment. FDR took office in 1933 as America touched bottom. Banks were closing, millions of people lost everything--the Great Depression had caused a national breakdown. Journalist Alter brings us closer than ever before to the Roosevelt magic. Facing the gravest crisis since the Civil War, instead of circumventing Congress and becoming the dictator so many thought they needed, FDR used his cagey political instincts and ebullient temperament in the storied first Hundred Days of his presidency to pull off a conjuring act that lifted the country and saved both democracy and capitalism. Alter shows us how a snobbish and apparently lightweight young aristocrat was forged into an incandescent leader by his domineering mother; his independent wife; his eccentric top adviser, Louis Howe; and his ally-turned-bitter-rival, Al Smith.--From publisher description.… (més)
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The author is a very talented writer. In this book he outlines the triumphs and travails Roosevelt dealt with during his initial first term. Out of the dust bowl when unemployment was rampant, and California closed its doors to the Okie's (those seeking a better life who hailed from Oklahoma.
The banks were closing, and the depression was upon the United States. From the beginning of his presidency, he stressed he did not believe in constitutional dictatorship, yet many of his opponents noted that when he felt it necessary, he did indeed act in a despotic manner.

Initiating "Fireside Chats," Roosevelt found an important way in which to encourage Americans to feel as though he was sitting in their living rooms.

An only child whose father was older when he was born, and died shortly thereafter, his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt spent her entire life dedicated to her baby! Exceedingly difficult for Eleanor Roosevelt, for the most part, she was able to remain distant and learned how to remain independent of both her mother in law, and her husband.

When Franklin developed polio, his mother tried to force him to stay home. It was Eleanor who pushed him into the goal of presidency.

This is a fascinating book that presents an overview of the difficult issues FDR faced and how he handled them. ( )
  Whisper1 | May 24, 2021 |
Roosevelt, Franklin, D (Subject)
  LOM-Lausanne | May 1, 2020 |
Excellent book about FDR's rise to power and how he became one of the most successful presidents of the 20th century ( )
  arelenriel | Jun 7, 2017 |
The man who STILL drives conservatives and libertarians bat-sh&t-nuts-crazy! Mr. Alter lays out just what FDR meant to the country. Alter, to his credit, makes this an exciting insightful read by concentrating on the intangible net-worth of FDR's confidence and his message of hope for a country knocked on its ass during the Great Depression. ( )
  scotchnsota | Nov 6, 2011 |
Those of us alive now have a difficult time understanding the degree of fear and uncertainty felt by people in 1933 when the banks were closing and they had no idea what the future held. One had to live through the time to know how it felt. Even then, some people soon forgot and started complaining about FDR’s efforts to fight the depression. They forgot that before FDR's inauguration may leading thinkers (including the respected columnist Walter Lippman) were encouraging him to assume dictatorial powers in order to save the nation. Conditions were so bad that some people speculated that the last time the world had a similar crisis it was followed by 400 years of "dark ages." And with the wrong people in leadership it could have turned into a dark age. Instead Franklin Roosevelt was able to lift the confidence of the nation.

I can remember my father telling me about Roosevelt closing all the banks in the United States on his first day of being president. He felt FDR had saved the nation. Roosevelt was able to instill the needed confidence in the banks by promising that the banks that were allowed to open again would be safe. The bank’s conditions were reviewed and only the solvent bank’s were allowed to open. Then within weeks, people who had waited in line to get their money out of the bank were now waiting in line to put their money back in. There was no deposit insurance at the time, so the fear of banks failing was real.

Ironically FDR was opposed to deposit insurance at the time. In hindsight it’s apparent that FDR, and most other people at the time, did not understand very much about economics. He sort of took action by intuition. The early New Deal program was actually operated by left over staff from the Hoover administration. Nevertheless, it is obvious that there is no way Herbert Hoover could have instilled the confidence in the banks the way the FDR did. The difference between recovery and disaster was psychological, but nevertheless it was a real difference.

It’s interesting to note that on paper Hoover was much more qualified to be president than FDR. Which indicates that the most important trait needed to be president is charisma. Experience and administrative skill are not all that important for the top person; Others can do that stuff.

The conclusion of this book is that FDR deserves credit for saving democracy, but not ending the depression. The depression was ended by World War II. ( )
1 vota Clif | Jul 6, 2010 |
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This is the story of a political miracle--the perfect match of man and moment. FDR took office in 1933 as America touched bottom. Banks were closing, millions of people lost everything--the Great Depression had caused a national breakdown. Journalist Alter brings us closer than ever before to the Roosevelt magic. Facing the gravest crisis since the Civil War, instead of circumventing Congress and becoming the dictator so many thought they needed, FDR used his cagey political instincts and ebullient temperament in the storied first Hundred Days of his presidency to pull off a conjuring act that lifted the country and saved both democracy and capitalism. Alter shows us how a snobbish and apparently lightweight young aristocrat was forged into an incandescent leader by his domineering mother; his independent wife; his eccentric top adviser, Louis Howe; and his ally-turned-bitter-rival, Al Smith.--From publisher description.

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