Roy Jenkins was a significant Labour politician who served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Harold Wilson before founding the Social Democratic Party in an attempt to prevent Labour's leftward drift. This was the last book he wrote and the last few pages were finished by Richard Neustadt.
FDR was the only US President to serve four terms (although the last one lasted only a few months before he died and was succeeded by Harry Truman); he saved the US from depression with his New Deal, a superb example of Keynesian economics before Keynes had published his theories; he saved Britain during World War II with equipment and by protecting shipping while the US was still neutral, by joining the war after Pearl Harbour but insisting that the European war took precedence over the Pacific war, by supporting Stalin's Soviet Russia, and by funding a bankrupt UK in the closing year of the war. He was disabled, having contracted Polio, and spent a lot of time in a wheelchair. In short he was a towering figure in American politics whose achievements are so much more than Churchill's.
Nevertheless, this book bucks the trends of modern biographies in its brevity. It is a model of narrative and clarity, except for the occasional use of obscure words: why say eleemosynary when you could say charitable?
No doubt a lot has been missed out. But this is a most readable book which would serve as a brilliant introduction to its subject for the general reader. March 2015; 170 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57