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
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57