Celebrity biographer Mann (Tinseltown) extends his reach to politics with a chronicle of the Roosevelts that spans the presidencies of both Teddy and Franklin. Mann posits that the two Roosevelt clans, that of Oyster Bay (Teddy’s branch) and that of Hyde Park (F.D.R.’s branch), were for the first half of the 20th century locked in combat for political ascendency. Uninterested in the substantive policies of the Roosevelts, Mann instead depicts a family whose members are defined by single-minded personal and political ambitions, awash in dysfunction that includes betrayals, rampant alcoholism, suicide, affairs, divorces, unhappy marriages, illegitimate children, the abandonment of familial loyalties, and more traditional political dirty tricks. Mann also speculates, based on sound sources, that Eleanor had a long-lived same-sex relationship and another possible physical relationship with a younger male protégé while first lady. Mann is an accomplished and persuasive writer, and he builds affecting portraits of his players that generally support his underlying themes. His weakness lies in his inability to leave unmined any Roosevelt family peccadillo. Also, Mann’s choice to emphasize the Roosevelt family dynamics and virtually ignore the contemporaneous historic events may leave readers with a sense of incompleteness. Agent: Malaga Baldi, Malaga Baldi Literary. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/24/2016 Release date: 12/01/2016 Genre: Nonfiction
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