Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America

Adam Cohen, Author . Penguin Press $29.95 (372p) ISBN 978-1-59420-196-7

New York Times editorial board member Cohen (coauthor, American Pharaoh ) delivers an exemplary and remarkably timely narrative of FDR's famous first “Hundred Days” as president. Providing a new perspective on an oft-told story, Cohen zeroes in on the five Roosevelt aides-de-camp whom he rightly sees as having been the most influential in developing FDR's wave of extraordinary actions. These were agriculture secretary Henry Wallace, presidential aide Raymond Moley, budget director Lewis Douglas, labor secretary Frances Perkins and Civil Works Administration director Harry Hopkins. This group, Cohen emphasizes, did not work in concert. The liberal Perkins, Wallace and Hopkins often clashed with Douglas, one of the few free-marketers in FDR's court. Moley hovered somewhere in between the two camps. As Cohen shows, the liberals generally prevailed in debates. However, the vital foundation for FDR's New Deal was crafted through a process of rigorous argument within the president's innermost circle rather than ideological consensus. Cohen's exhaustively researched and eloquently argued book provides a vital new level of insight into Roosevelt's sweeping expansion of the federal government's role in our national life. (Jan. 12)

Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
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