The Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

George McJimsey, Author, Homer E. Socolofsky, Foreword by
George McJimsey, Author, Homer E. Socolofsky, Foreword by University Press of Kansas $34.95 (355p) ISBN 978-0-7006-1012-9
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Historian McJimsey (Iowa State University) presents a serviceable account, organized into historically arranged thematic chapters in which FDR is frequently offstage. Following a single pre-presidential biographic chapter, McJimsey (Harry Hopkins) devotes seven chapters to domestic affairs--mostly pre-1938, beginning with the Hundred Days and covering economic and social recovery, regional resource development and ""Eleanor Roosevelt and a New Deal for Women."" The next four chapters cover international affairs--from the late-'30s struggle against isolationism to planning and negotiating the shape of the postwar world order. McJimsey's main thesis is the importance of the pluralist political vision underlying Roosevelt's notion of political process as well as his goals: instead of dominant forces imposing lasting solutions, FDR saw competing forces that could only come to provisional solutions. Unfortunately, this thesis isn't fully articulated until the conclusion where, for example, McJimsey argues, ""Roosevelt's presidency employed administration to activate citizen participation. The furthest thing from his mind was to create an administrative or bureaucratic state that would operate apart from the American people."" He's equally tardy in noting objections, such as the claim that ""pluralism merely enlarged the number of special interests that had access to government."" Comparative studies of welfare state development--which McJimsey doesn't cite--portray federalism as a developmental impediment. In contrast, McJimsey places federalism--multiple levels of individual and group interaction--at the heart of Roosevelt's vision, whether for good or ill. 12 photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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