The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right

Sally Denton. Bloomsbury Press, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60819-080-8
Two weeks before FDR’s 1933 inauguration, an assassin fired five shots at him, narrowly missing. A year later, a retired general claimed several wealthy businessmen had asked him join a plot to overthrow the government. The media treated it as a joke, but historian and public policy expert Denton’s research indicates otherwise. The failed assassin, an unemployed bricklayer, probably acted alone, and the “Wall Street Putsch” never went beyond preliminary plotting. Denton (The Pink Lady) surrounds these events with a stirring, laudatory history of FDR’s first year in office, during which he revived a despairing nation’s confidence, promoted legislation setting up a social safety net, which is still with us. But he also placed restrictions on banks and securities trading, denounced by businessmen in stunningly familiar words (they called him a Communist and a fascist). Many of FDR’s innovations were repealed during the 1980s with what Denton sees as unpleasant consequences. Denton traces today’s right-wing “paranoid style” to the nascent fascist movement that opposed Roosevelt, although she fails to promote these plots to more than historical footnotes. But Denton has written a well-researched, if nostalgic, account of an era when people looked to the government for help, and it obliged. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
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