cover image Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery

Russell Freedman. Clarion Books, $17.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-862-0

A natural follow-up to Freedman's biography of FDR, this impeccably researched, highly readable study of one of this country's greatest First Ladies is nonfiction at its best. As a role model for girls and an inspiration to both genders, Eleanor Roosevelt remains unsurpassed. Freedman relates how she transcended both an unhappy childhood (her parents separated when she was six; her mother died when Eleanor was eight, and her father, an alcoholic, died two years later) and a timid nature to become one of the most outspoken, vigorous, highly regarded women in history. The vast range of her interests and activities--journalism, politics and social activism--becomes even more remarkable as the author deftly considers Eleanor Roosevelt's times and her social milieu. Approximately 140 well-chosen black-and-white photos amplify the text. Freedman writes both authoritatively and compellingly, and the Eleanor that emerges is a complex, flesh-and-blood individual, not a dull heroine of textbook history. He also deals plainly with some of the more sordid aspects of the Roosevelts' married life (namely FDR's infidelity), but he never sensationalizes, and his honesty and candor signal his respect for his subject and for his readers. This biography cannot be recommended highly enough. Ages 9-up. (Aug.)