Franklin and Lucy – Book Review « Devourer of BooksWhen did we become so interested in the sex lives of presidents? But only with the loosening of sexual mores in the s, accompanied by the false air of familiarity fostered by television, did the dam burst. The trend reached its apotheosis in the contemptible document known as the Starr report. Joseph E. Persico retells it in the context of the intimate lives of Franklin and Eleanor more generally. For good measure, the book revisits the probably romantic attachment between Eleanor Roosevelt and the journalist-turned-White House aide and White House resident Lorena Hickok. He pursues questions about when and with whom Roosevelt went to bed with the same solemnity that other historians take to the question of when and with whom he decided to go to war.
Book Review: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Other Women
We see something larger than life in FDR, a giant of a soul unyielding against significant physical disability and guiding a country at a violent crossroads. But before bringing in the ladies, Persico must chip away at the happy lore of FDR as magnanimous hero. In his early life, see, Roosevelt is jarringly unlikeable. With his English-sounding accent and exclusive private school background, his golden mane and his conflict-free childhood, FDR at first seems effete and blank. If his early life is meaningless, FDR as Harvard brat is a more deplorable character. Seemingly unburdened by any real personality, Roosevelt spent his college years joining social clubs and tippling with chums.
Persico Roosevelt's Secret War engagingly and eloquently narrates the tangled relationships between Franklin and the various women to whom he became close, including his mother; his wife; Lucy Mercer the young Eleanor Roosevelt's social secretary during WWI and later Mrs. These relationships have been examined before; the major revelation of the volume—backed up by documents recently discovered by Mercer's descendants—is that her relationship with FDR continued throughout his life, even after it was supposedly ended by Franklin at the demand of his mother, who threatened to cut off both his income and his inheritance were he to leave his wife and family. Previously, it was believed that FDR's relationship with Mercer only rekindled once Franklin's mother died, at the very end of his own life. Another intriguing aspect of the book is Persico's informed speculation on how Franklin's frequently nonchalant womanizing affected Eleanor, who appears, quite possibly, to have pursued several relationships of her own, both hetero- and homosexual. In sum, Persico offers what will prove an important, lasting addition to the literature of the Roosevelts. View Full Version of PW.