The newest series by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns premiered this month on PBS television and at pbs.org. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is about fifth cousins Theodore (TR), Franklin (FDR) and Eleanor (ER) Roosevelt. After watching, why not delve deeper into the lives of these three by checking out some books from the Monrovia Public Library.
Although the 26th president, the very productive Theodore (1858-1919) was much more: a governor, a historian, an outdoorsman, an early environmentalist, an explorer and a warrior. Edmund Morris’ trilogy covers his whole life: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, about his early days, Theodore Rex about his time as the youngest president in history and the legacy he left-the national park system and Colonel Roosevelt, which examines his jam-packed post-presidential life.
Like his cousin TR, Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) was also the governor of New York and the president of the United States. Enormously influential in his four terms as president, he is best known for leading America out of economic depression and for his participation in winning World War II. Kenneth Davis' multivolume FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, The New York Years, The New Deal Years, Into the Firestorm FDR’s Last Year trace his personal and political life. FDR’s Splendid Deception by Hugh Gallagher offers another view of this powerful man as a person with polio who hid is ailment from the public.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), like the other Roosevelts, came from money, but devoted herself to public service. Her marriage to FDR was a political partnership and she was an active first lady who supported civil rights. She once went into a coal mine to show her support of American workers. Blanche Weisen Cook’s 2 volume Eleanor Roosevelt is an engrossing look at a woman who defined herself as an independent woman. Sometimes the best view into a life is through the person’s own words. Joseph Lash’s A World of Love: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends is a collection of ER’s letters.