Friday, December 26, 2008

Franklin and Lucy

This was the book I wanted to read when I checked FDR and Lucy out of the library, and it's a far better biography. It's exactly the type of biography I prefer to read - one about the people themselves. Countless volumes have been written on FDR's political life and presidency, but those aren't the parts of FDR's life I'm interested in. I'd rather learn about the person, not the politician, and the book definitely delivers.

The book thoroughly explores FDR and his relationships with women, from his mother to his wife Eleanor to his several mistresses. Specifically it looks at his long-term relationship with Lucy Rutherfurd, whom he met when she worked as a social secretary for Eleanor.

When Eleanor discovered evidence of FDR's relationship with Rutherfurd, she offered him a divorce, but Sara Delano, FDR's mother, threatened to cut off her financial support, which was significant, if FDR left his wife. Eleanor made FDR promise to not see or contact Rutherfurd again, but he didn't honor his word. Lucy visited FDR at the White House when Eleanor was away, and she was his frequent guest at Warm Springs. She was even there the day FDR died. Her presence was kept from the press and from Eleanor, but she eventually found out that Lucy and FDR had been seeing each other, often with the help of Anna Roosevelt, FDR and Eleanor's daughter.

The book is a fascinating look at the private side of FDR, one that most people never knew existed.

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