cover image Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America

Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America

Douglas Brinkley. Harper, $35 (752p) ISBN 978-0-06-208923-6

Brinkley (The Quiet World), a professor of history at Rice University, succeeds in showing that F.D.R. should be remembered for his extraordinary, often unsung role as a great conservationist, particularly of public lands. From childhood, Roosevelt was taken by the natural surroundings of his Hudson River home, and as he emerged to greatness he never lost his interest in preserving natural habitats as state and national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments, and forests%E2%80%94especially those lands near American cities. Brinkley, who in Wilderness Warrior wrote about Theodore Roosevelt's outdoorsmanship, makes a solid, if mostly unstated, case that F.D.R.'s conservationist record is as important as his cousin's. Brinkley also addresses the many people who joined F.D.R. in his environmental passions as he covers the lands the president and his administration set aside. He also shows how F.D.R., in his wartime presidency, was moving toward what Brinkley terms "global conservation." The book's detail can be overwhelming and, as with many works of modern American history, it's mostly narrative without a strong point of view, save for Brinkley's evident and justifiable admiration for F.D.R.'s achievements. But Brinkley's book adds significantly to knowledge of F.D.R. as both man and president, and ranks among the best books on this major historical figure. (Mar.)