Man of Destiny: FDR and the Making of the American Century
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As the distinguished historian Alonzo Hamby argues in this authoritative biography, FDR’s record as president was more mixed than we are often led to believe. The New Deal provided much-needed assistance to millions of Americans, but failed to restore prosperity, and while FDR became an outstanding commander-in-chief during World War II, his plans for the postwar world were seriously flawed. No less perceptive is Hamby’s account of FDR’s private life, which explores the dynamics of his marriage and his romance with his wife’s secretary, Lucy Mercer. Hamby documents FDR’s final months in intimate detail, claiming that his perseverance, despite his serious illness, not only shaped his presidency, but must be counted as one of the twentieth century’s great feats of endurance.
Hamby reveals a man whose personality—egocentric, undisciplined in his personal appetites, at times a callous user of aides and associates, yet philanthropic and caring for his nation’s underdogs—shaped his immense legacy. Man of Destiny is a measured account of the life, both personal and public, of the most important American leader of the twentieth century.
determined to effect a reorganization that would allow Washington to control Federal Reserve policy in what he saw as the public interest.9 The statute greatly centralized the fragmented Federal Reserve System and enhanced the president’s influence over monetary policy by empowering his key appointee, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who also served as chair of the interest-rate-setting Open Market Committee. Now more visibly the nation’s chief monetary official than ever, the
United States as guests of the Roosevelts at Hyde Park, attending Episcopal services at St. James Church and being driven around the estate by Roosevelt in his specially modified Ford. They, their hosts, and two hundred invited guests consumed hot dogs at a gala picnic lunch. The president delighted in dealing with a monarch on equal terms. That last evening, he and George talked late into the night. At 1:30 a.m., Roosevelt put his hand on the king’s knee and said, “Young man, it’s time for you
Story, 127, 162. 15. ER, This Is My Story, 142, 151, 157–158, 162–163. 16. Ward, A First-Class Temperament, 97–98. 17. ER, This Is My Story, 165; Ward, A First-Class Temperament, 102. 18. Ward, A First-Class Temperament, 98–99. 19. FDR to SDR, September 6, 1907, in Roosevelt, Personal Letters, II, 136–138. For full and useful accounts of FDR’s law practice, see Kenneth S. Davis, FDR: The Beckoning of Destiny, 1882–1928 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1972), 208–214, and Ward,
http://www.navyleague.org/about_us/history.php. On the position of Daniels, Wilson, and Bryan, see NYT, March 2, 10 (editorial), April 12, 21 (editorial), May 25, October 28, December 1, 1913. 12. The early months of the Japanese crisis are detailed in Cronon, Cabinet Diaries, 48–72. 13. Freidel, FDR, I, 225; NYT, May 20, 1913. 14. TR to FDR, May 10, 1913, July 23, 1914, in The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. Elting E. Morison et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954),
leaving the preeminent European powers with huge debts and making an outsized creditor of the United States. Attempts by the European nations to reestablish their currencies had been fraught with difficulty. France and Germany had to undertake dramatic devaluations. Britain resumed gold payments at the prewar rate in 1925 but was forced to abandon the gold standard in 1931, when it also dropped free trade for protectionism. German efforts to defend the mark catastrophically deepened the