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Extended Audio Sample FDR Audiobook, by Jean Edward Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,145 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jean Edward Smith Narrator: Richard McGonagle Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9780739343456
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One of today’s premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the epic life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this superlative volume, Jean Edward Smith combines contemporary scholarship and a broad range of primary source material to provide an engrossing narrative of one of America’s greatest presidents.

This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details. We see how Roosevelt’s restless energy, fierce intellect, personal magnetism, and ability to project effortless grace permitted him to master countless challenges throughout his life. Smith recounts FDR’s battles with polio and physical disability, and how these experiences helped forge the resolve that FDR used to surmount the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the wartime threat of totalitarianism. Here also is FDR’s private life depicted with unprecedented candor and nuance, with close attention paid to the four women who molded his personality and helped to inform his worldview: His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, formidable yet ever supportive and tender; his wife, Eleanor, whose counsel and affection were instrumental to FDR’s public and individual achievements; Lucy Mercer, the great romantic love of FDR’s life; and Missy LeHand, FDR’s longtime secretary, companion, and confidante, whose adoration of her boss was practically limitless.

Smith also tackles head-on and in-depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelt’s public career, including his disastrous attempt to reconstruct the Judiciary; the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans; and Roosevelt’s occasionally self-defeating Executive overreach. Additionally, Smith offers a sensitive and balanced assessment of Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust, noting its breakthroughs and shortcomings.

Summing up Roosevelt’s legacy, Jean Smith declares that FDR, more than any other individual, changed the relationship between the American people and their government. It was Roosevelt who revolutionized the art of campaigning and used the burgeoning mass media to garner public support and allay fears. But more important, Smith gives us the clearest picture yet of how this quintessential Knickerbocker aristocrat, a man who never had to depend on a paycheck, became the common man’s president. The result is a powerful account that adds fresh perspectives and draws profound conclusions about a man whose story is widely known but far less well understood. Written for the general reader and scholars alike, FDR is a stunning biography in every way worthy of its subject.
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Quotes & Awards

  • Winner of the 2008 Parkman Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beth | 2/20/2014

    " Yippee ... I finished 27 + hours of listening ... Parts were great ... parts were too detailed and not interesting. I was looking for another "John Adams" and this was not it. I did learn much about history and that is always a good thing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jai-shen Reader | 2/13/2014

    " FDR was even more incredible a leader than I recall. Many parallels with our current national predicament. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susanne Clower | 2/11/2014

    " I guess I'm on an American presidents biography jag. What an excellent book. It gives a great overview of FDR's life and is unabashedly pro-Roosevelt. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 2/2/2014

    " A good read, not overly critical bio of the man and president. Many interesting and illuminating facts and insights. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom | 1/31/2014

    " The best 1 volume biography of FDR. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an understanding of one of America's best Presidents "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 geoff | 1/29/2014

    " Found out that I really just knew FDR for the New Deal and WWII, but a lot of other interesting stories in this book. Really enjoyed learning about FDR's early life, his role in NY politics and some of his major mistakes in domestic politics. Long, but well paced. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 1/28/2014

    " An extremely readable biography about a complex man, and a complex presidency. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/26/2014

    " Extremely detailed but still readable! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fred Wilhoft | 1/15/2014

    " This was by far the most insightful biography of FDR I have read, and there have been several. The book moved along well, and kept your interest. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Lackey | 1/13/2014

    " This is a terrific biography based on extraordinarily broad and deep research, and briskly written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 9/26/2013

    " I got this audiobook from the Pasadena Library (26 CDs) because during Obama's inauguration, people were comparing him to FDR. Now I know why Roosevelt is rated by historians as one of our greatest presidents. He was truly a hero. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 9/16/2013

    " The time I spent getting through this book is a reflection of its lack of portablity rather than its quality. Jean Edward Smith is a great writer. Biographies can easily be dry and dull. This one read like a novel. I learned so much! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karabina | 9/1/2013

    " It is a very interesting book on the life of our greatest President (in my opinion!). It's a bit slow at first, but starts to pick up toward the middle. It is a very long book and not an easy read. There are a lot of names in the book which can get confusing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maureen | 9/22/2012

    " I actually listened to this book on tape during a drive from Chas to Pennsylvania. Gorgeous. I cried, like I do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Cygan | 6/1/2012

    " An outstanding, complete, and reflective biography of one of the greatest presidents of our time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheri Hansen | 2/1/2012

    " it's easy to romanticize the roosevelts, but this book was very well balanced in terms of respect for his choices and the exposure of his humanity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill S. | 11/23/2011

    " An excellent bio of FDR, warts and all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 11/2/2011

    " FDR is one of the greatest men-- and perhaps THE greatest president-- of all time; this thorough but very readable biography was revelatory, inspiring, and, in the end, nearly moved me to tears. What more can I say? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacob | 10/28/2011

    " A very comprehensive biography, providing a balanced and informative account of a man who has contributed more to the current structure of the federal government than any other single historical figure. It was slow going at times, but I learned much from this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 3/9/2011

    " Best biography I've ever read, and potentially the best history book I've read. Sweeping in magnitude, FDR doesnt forget the interesting and often humorous details that make history so rich and exciting. Five stars hardly expresses how much I enjoyed reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew | 2/27/2011

    " Incredible, unabashed, and honest. Really goes beyond the bounds of typical Presidential biographies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 2/3/2011

    " No mention of Japanese internment camps? Really? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 8/9/2010

    " Great book. Unbiased account of FDR's life, his policies and WWII. Highly recommend to anyone interested in an iconic American politician. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 4/8/2010

    " An extremely readable biography about a complex man, and a complex presidency. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 2/11/2010

    " Interesting, although exhaustive, book about FDR...very open about his faults, prejudices, and affairs. There is so much detail that I sometimes skimmed over passages (the book is over 1,000 pages...good for weight-lifting!), but still retained a lot of information. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheik | 12/22/2009

    " She got everything right but Pearl Harbor. "Day of Deceit: FDR and Pearl Harbor" gives the true picture as reseaarched over 40 years in my experience.
    The information about the new deal is great in this book. "

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About the Author
Author Jean Edward Smith

Jean Edward Smith is an acclaimed biographer and university professor. Named “Today’s foremost biographer of formidable figures in American history” by George Will, he has written biographies on a number of prominent figures in US history. His work has earned him many awards and accolades; his biography of Ulysses S. Grant was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2002, and his biography on President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eisenhower in War and Peace, was a New York Times bestseller. Currently, Smith is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University; he also taught previously at the University of Toronto as a professor of political economy for 35 years. 

About the Narrator

Richard McGonagle is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and an experienced film, television, and voice-over actor. He has appeared in such films as Rules of Engagement and such television shows as The Practice and JAG.