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an extraordinary time

Thanks to The Daily Show I was introduced to the books of Doris Kearns Goodwin, a delightful historian. Reading No Ordinary Time about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt during World War II has given me insight not just into American history but also into the psych of my grandparents. This tale takes place when my antecedents were around my age. The author points out that when Roosevelt died, he had been in office for thirteen years - the youth who voted him into office his last term were nine when he was first elected. One citizen recalls thinking the world was going to end when he died because she had never known another U.S. president. A friend pointed out that people who just came of voting age (21 at that time) when he was first elected, were in their mid-thirties by his last election; a totally different demographic.

Every time the book brings up the war, various strategies and battles, I keep thinking of my grandfather and his amazing memory. He was there. I wish I could speak to him about that more. I miss him. He would also give me perspective on all the other issues; the advancement of Eleanor into the hearts and minds of the people; the critics of the president (and yes, despite being re-elected four times, he still had critics). However, without my grandfather, Kearns Goodwin does a decent job. She humanizes the president; revealing his strengths and showing both his weaknesses (a desire to be loved by all, duplicitousness, health problems and acute denial of said health problems) and those of his most amazing wife (more insecurity, seriousness, and sensitivity that made it difficult for her to joke and have fun). All in all, a fascinating read about an extraordinary time.

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