Eleanor Roosevelt, among her many public roles, wrote an advice column called “If You Ask Me” for more than two decades, starting in 1941, first for the Ladies Home Journal and then for McCall’s. In this collection, Binker, consulting editor for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, organizes Roosevelt’s thoughtful answers by topic, including “Women and Gender,” “Race and Ethnicity,” “Civil Liberties,” and “War and Peace.” Roosevelt emerges as blunt and opinionated, but also open, compassionate, and genuinely interested in others. Readers will learn, among other things, that she occasionally gave money to panhandlers, felt the House Un-American Activities Committee was ruining the U.S.’s reputation abroad, and believed that work was the best antidote to depression. Asked in 1950 what she thought accounted for the failure of so many Americans to vote, she replied it came from the misguided idea that democracy is self-sustaining, adding that children should be taught that “our duties as citizens in a democracy come before any other duties.” When a sixth grader wrote in asking how to make the world more peaceful, Roosevelt advised the child to “learn to live harmoniously with people of your own age even though they might be of different races and different religions.” Quotable and surprisingly timely, this optimistic book is both bracing and comforting. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2018 Release date: 10/23/2018 Genre: Nonfiction
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