cover image Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Russell Freedman. Clarion Books, $20 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-379-3

Newbery Medalist Freedman ( Lincoln: A Photobiography ) breathes new life into the subject of our 32nd president. FDR (1882-1945) emerges in all his complexity: Freedman succinctly presents the privileged student ``content to squeak by'' on a ``gentleman's C''; the suitor defying his mother; the polio victim whose suffering taught him compassion for the common man; and, of course, the statesman and leader who shepherded the U.S. through the Depression and WW II. Liberal use of judicious quotations vivifies every discussion. The 125 photographs and prints are equally well-chosen--requisite images of the FDR era are included along with the more unusual, and nearly all are stirring. Fortunately, this fine biography does not apologize for FDR's failings. He is specifically castigated for his failure to save European Jews from Hitler; his ``romance'' with Lucy Mercer is also mentioned, as well as its profound effect on Eleanor (who is admiringly captured throughout). Young readers will need help interpreting some of the terminology here (``trickle-down'' economics, for example), but Freedman's heartening pace and equable tone will stimulate the reader to seek that help. Ages 9-up. (Oct.)