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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
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A compelling chronicle of a nation and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. With an uncanny feel for detail and a novelist's grasp of drama and depth, Doris Kearns Goodwin brilliantly narrates the interrelationship between the inner workings of the Roosevelt White House and the destiny of the United States. Goodwin paints a comprehensive, intimate portrait that fills in a historical gap in the story of our nation under the Roosevelts.

No Ordinary Time is a monumental work, a brilliantly conceived chronicle of one of the most vibrant and revolutionary periods in the history of the United States. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin masterfully weaves together a striking number of story lines--Eleanor and Franklin's marriage and remarkable partnership, Eleanor's life as First Lady, and FDR's White House and its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin effectively melds these details and stories into an unforgettable and intimate portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and of the time during which a new, modern America was born.

Customer Reviews:

  • Wonderful piece of living history
    Rarely does an excellent writer appear in the biography universe. Goodwin uses her amazing skills to weave the story of two remarkable and very human people into and through a momentous time in the world's history. While she sometimes gets slowed down by statistics of limited value (for example how many rubber bands were collected in rubber drive) overall the writer has found a brilliant balance between facts, feelings and remembrances. The book's main revelations center mainly on the enormous contribution ER made to race relations and labor relations during that desperate time. One comes to feel that if not for FDR's hyperactive, agitating wife little or no social progress would have been made during the war years. I have read several biographies of FDR and Churchill and was still enriched by the layers of detail Goodwin has brought to her work, highly recommended....more info
  • No Ordinary Historian, Either!
    I have been a fan of the Roosevelts since I discovered them as a teenager thirty years ago. I have read many, many books on them, most notably Burns's Roosevelt biography and the excellent set on Eleanor by Blanche Cook. I have also read many books on the various political and social aspects of the Roosevelt years. It was with great interest that I purchased this book when it was released. I knew of Mrs. Goodwin from her work and subsequent book on President Johnson.

    This book offers a unique perspective on the Roosevelts, namely their lives during the second World War. While not a daily diary of their activities, the book succeeds in illustrating not only significant public appearances, but also routines in their daily lives. Mrs. Goodwin has a particular talent for writing in a style that is extremely readable without being simplistic. The overall writing style is sympathetic toward the Roosevelts without neglect of critism or their individual weaknesses.

    This book was one of the very few I read that I couldn't put down until finished. I have reread it, and loaned it out, so many times that I was forced to buy a second copy.

    Mrs. Goodwin has the peculiar talent of making history 'live' through writing, in the same manner that Barbara Tuchman did. This book is great reading for those who don't ordinarily like reading history.

    I only wish Mrs. Goodwin would spend less time on television and more on writing books!...more info

  • Intimate Portrait of FDR's White House During WW2
    Whatever the academic infractions allegedly committed by Ms. Goodwin in writing this book were, she has produced an excellent work that lays bare in detail the workings of FDR's White House during the Second World War from May 1940 onward when Nazi Germany ended the phony war and stampeded over France and Europe to the doorstep of Britain before turning on Soviet Russia. This is a story that in general terms most literate persons know or should know and it is precisely this legacy, not Ms. Goodwin's academic credentials, that sardonic critics of this work and its author seek to disparage. When read in conjunction with Steve Neal's excellent monograph on Wendell Willkie or similar works, a vivid picture of this historical period and its life and death issues for the future of humanity emerge in the context of a distinct theme: that the prospect of an imminent victory of Nazi Germany and fascism in the late 30s and early 40s was viewed with complacency, not by the epochal FDR and "liberals", but by a wide section of conservatives and the "America First" leaning right wing, including all the principal Republican Presidential candidates in 1940 (except for maverick Willkie), whose conciliation of fascism, as in the post-war era in Latin America, was consistent with their deep hostility to FDR and the "socialism" of the New Deal from which they sought to return to the good old days of the laissez-faire capitalism of the Gilded Age in which obstacles to their unrestrained profits like the graduated income tax, social security and labor unions were eliminated. ...more info
  • Not What It Appears
    If you read the outside cover of the CD Audiobook, you get the impression that the volume strongly will deal with the manner in which FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt led the country during World War II. However, what you get is more often innuendo about FDR's fascination with women other than his wife, whether his prviate secretaries, a visiting princess, or his mistress of many years. Eleanor is covered in more detail than was expected, but she comes off pretty well, her husband's wandering eye notwithstanding.

    Goodwin does provide some insight into the challenges of running the United States during the critical war years, but the amount of time devoted to private pursuits was not what was expected. I had hoped for a lot more detail on the warimte effects of the economy, and the challenges it served the president. I had hopes of more on FDR's handling of race and labor issues, but did not get it. I had hopes of learning more about FDR's partnership with the Congress to achieve the nation's goals, but was disappointed there as well.

    This was the first Goodwin book I picked up, and it didn't put me off enough to avoid her amazingly good Team of Rivals, about Lincoln and his cabinet. Still, I remain disappointed that the book's cover and inside clearly focused on other issues than what was projected....more info
  • Another great book by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    Two new biographies of FDR have recently come out (one by Jean Smith and the other by H.W. Brands) and this book is a great adjunct to those books. I read No Ordinary Time after just having completed FDR by Jean Smith. Both cover much the same ground (at least in so far as the events of 1940-1945 are concerned) but Goodwin's book is much more emotionally powerful. For instance, both cover the events concerning FDR's death but the way Goodwin tells the story so emotionally involved me that it brought tears to my eyes.

    This book is essentially the story of the separate lives led by Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and their interactions. It is about infidelity, emotional estrangement and unrequited love, with WWII as background material rather than as the focus of the book. The struggle that FDR waged to support Great Britain before December 7, 1941, the way in which the war effort was waged on the home front and the interactions with Churchill and Stalin are all discussed in some detail, but the focus is on Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. As such, this book is a valuable adjunct to biographies of FDR and books about WWII.

    As I said, I read Smith's FDR just before I read this book and I feel that knowing what went on before 1940 helped me understand this book, but while such knowledge was very helpful I do not believe that it is absolutely required. Goodwin weaves in background material about the New Deal, the elections of 1932 and 1936 and about Franklin and Eleanor's lives before 1940 in an effortless manner, so the reader is brought up to date but perhaps not quite to the extent that they would be if they had read a book concerning events that occurred prior to 1940.

    I recommend this book to those interested in FDR or ER and to anyone who likes a very powerful, interesting, and emotional biography. Those who are interested in just the history of the 1930's and 1940's may find the focus on the personal lives of FDR and ER a bit too emotionally involving, but it is certainly not dry history.
    ...more info
  • Well written, high level look at FDR's later Years
    Having read many of the reviews written here, I think that it is important to first state that I am very conservative both economically and politically. Having said that, I want to make sure that it is understood that I am not judging the FDR Presidency, just this book.

    This is my first real historical look at this time frame in American history and I felt that this book was a very good start from which to look into other avenues of interest during the war years. It is important to keep in mind that the earlier FDR years do not come into the focus of this work. This would not be a good book to judge FDR and the New Deal. It sticks with the years 1940 until FDR's death in 1945.

    The book is well written and easy to read. It definitely lacks an in depth look at the "whys" of the FDR decision process. I would have liked to have learned more about the actual war decisions, but in reading the subthe title of the book, it is clear that the focus is about the homefront, not necessarily the war efforts abroad. The internal fighting and family relationships are discussed at length. Eleanor is given a front and center position in this work. I really would have liked to see more of FDR and how the decisions for various strategies were found.

    There is a liberal bias to the book, but maybe that's my conservative stance showing. Nothing is mentioned in the book other than two sentences about Vice President Wallace. FDR is made to be a Superman, when it could have been read as FDR was merely a dictator that was elected. Without the effect of the decision process, the impression is that all decisions were FDR's alone. And while that may have been the case, the book never clearly states the way many of these ideas came to pass. This book leaves me the impression that much of FDR's time was spent polling the public and then fitting that knowledge into a decision.

    So yes the book does have weaknesses in my opinion. But the strength of the book is the look at FDR the person. He was a solitary figure that needed a strong group of friends to humor him and help him through a truly horrific time in American history. His family life was a mess - he and Eleanor going in different directions with the purpose of staying apart. But the main thing I took from this work was that FDR gave the country hope. He never said quit, no matter the odds or obstacles. Was he a great President? This book is a very small piece of that puzzle....more info
  • the best biography
    Doris Kearns Goodwin really took her time and wrote one of the best books I have ever read. She talked about Franklin and Eleanore and their influence on each other, as well as the support for each other they needed to get through WWII. I was born in 1960, and recognized many of the names in politics from my childhood, but the step by step process of the war and the thinking behind each step was just so educational for me. I chose this book for my Literature group last year, and everyone loved it. Most of the women lived through this time, and one was a nurse in the army at that time, and said this was a very accurate account, but also that she learned much more than was ever in the news. Just a great experience and definitely sparked great discussion fo hours!...more info
  • A Crashing Bore
    I love reading history, so I was really looking forward to reading this book. It was a great disappointment. The author clearly adored Eleanor, and she gets a very thorough treatment in the book. The President, though, remained a total mystery. What made him think? What did he really think? What made him such a great leader? Don't read this book for answers to those questions because they are not there. At bottom, the book was a lengthy and ponderous treatment of Eleanor Roosevelt and her influence on the President and policy. That story could have been told in about 300 fewer pages....more info
  • Fascinating Read
    We read this for our book club's April selection and everyone loved it. It is very well written and documented - we learned so much about the Roosevelt's and events that occurred during that time. Insightful and interesting. ...more info
  • Terrific Insight But, Alas, Mostly From Eleanor...
    Even today we voters primarily vote for the candidate instead of his or her spouse. Thus, my preference would have been for a book that tilted more heavily with FDR's vantage point.

    Having said that I can also certainly stress that I understand precisely why so much is dedicated to the First Lady. She certainly was a great American and was heavily involved and did a terrific job in getting a first-hand look at the country for FDR. I doff my hat and bow to the one individual who did so much to bring my country into a new age.

    As I listened to the audio version I thought much of my mother. She had worked at McDonnell-Douglas and then became an Army WAC. Near the end of the war Mom wrote a poem that appeared in Stars 7 Stripes, "You Whispered I Love You."

    At the time she was hospitalized and later received a number of marriage offers but the one she'd most wanted to hear did write to ask me hand. Thus, some seven years later, thankfully, I appeared on the scene and would later become a writer. I am grateful but, perhaps, readers of my reviews have opposite emotions!

    Again, get a copy of this book and read or listen to it to get a terrific insight into the America born from the Roosevelts. [...]...more info
  • A good read
    I've read several books on FDR and this one covered many aspects of the Roosevelts and the war years that the others didn't. Worth reading!...more info
  • Refreshingly Human.
    This book at 626 pages is so rich in detail that readers may think they are reading "War And Peace." This is half history, and half biography of the Roosevelts. Wartime conversations, weapons production, historic meetings, the leaders, their families, and personal anecdotes are all here. You learn that Stalin was an enigma to FDR. That Churchill and FDR were truly kindred spirits. On the homefront numerous changes happened that transformed the USA permanently. Ex: The large scale moving from rural communities to urban manufacturing areas. Women {Rosy the riveter} moved in huge numbers into the work force. The service sector of the economy grew to help them. As in day care, take out food, and laundries. The reader may truly be stunned at just how unprepared the USA was before
    the start of the war. When the readers are done, they will realize that very title is a huge "understatement."...more info
  • One of my favorite books
    I love this book so much (and admire the author Doris Kearns Goodwin enormously) that I have bought this inside story of America and the Roosevelts during WWII for many of my friends and family members and they all make sure to thank me for introducing them to it...A MUST READ in my humble opinon...more info
  • A great story of an extraordinary couple
    This book, No Ordinary Time, is an exceptionally well written biography Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The book tells the story of the World War II through the Roosevelts and the inner circle of the White House "family" members. Altogether a well told story, and it makes a wonderful, rewarding read. ...more info
  • Can't Put It Down!
    This book was so good, I could not stop reading it!! It's so well-written that it is like reading a story by a friend. Besides the history lesson, I gained so much admiration for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It was such a trying time in our history and I felt like I was there by reading this book. It is also scary how similar the events in this book are to the current events in the world. This is a great book!...more info
  • Review of the FDR Era
    Being a Baby Boomer, I always wanted to understand the former generation's affinity to FDR and Eleanor. Doris Kearns Goodwin in her Pulitzer Prize winning book, creates a visualization of the people and the times quite well. Never knew FDR was such a ladies man, or that Eleanor overcame such a disfunctional early family life to become a leading example of feminism well ahead of her time....more info
  • Mailing was too late for trip...
    I ordered this book with the understanding that there was sufficient time for it to be received before we left on vacation. No quarrel with the book selection, but the mailing date mysteriously changed when the order was confirmed. Unfortunately, the "new" mailing date was just about two weeks later than what was advertised....more info
  • If you have even a modicum of interest in this period, read this book.
    Doris Kearns Goodwin is simply at her best in No Ordinary Time. It is a wonderful historical narrative of what went on inside the White House during the Depression, the years leading up to the war and WWII itself. Dr. Goodwin picked a topic and added an immense amount of research and color to it. She manages to astutely put the reader into the Roosevelt White house and the relationship between these two towering figures. Yet she never allows the reader to lose site of the bigger picture, always seemlessly bringing a broader historical framework back into her pages. Her depiction of FDR's true leadership but failure at in-depth human relationships is well done. Her look at the pioneering Elenor Roosevelt and her inability to slow down and deal with a marriage even after a near failure in its very nascent stages, her desire to influence her husband to keep the social progress of the New Deal alive when his hands were beyond full leading an all-encompassing war effort and her jealousies of women with social graces is truly terrific stuff. Literally all the players that set both the world stage are there with much of her attention at the White House where friends, family, advisors, lovers, and world leaders lived and stayed and created a dynamic that literally shaped U.S. policy during this incredible period of world history.

    One could go on about how well each topic is covered. Suffice it to say this is one well done book. If the reader desires to learn more about another relationship that greatly effected the war effort, I would recommend "Franklin and Winston" by Jon Meacham or, for a broader and terrific work on the period, "Freedom From Fear" by David M. Kennedy (part of the Oxford History of the United States). For a great couple of historical fiction pieces I would pick up "Winds of War" and "War and Rememberence" by Herman Wouk (don't let a poor televions mini-series poison your view of a couple of terrific novels that give you a feel for a period that even the best writers of narrative history, simply cannot given the purpose of their writings). ...more info
  • 'No Ordinary Time' is No Ordinary Book
    Another tour de force by Goodwin. Like her "Team of Rivals", this book is a fascinating, compelling account of a fascinating, compelling period in our history. Kearns relates in great detail the many forces and waves that buffeted the American people as they geared up to face the immense challenge facing them and the Allies. I was a child then and remember a few things, especially the tension showed by the adults -- tensions I didn't understand. This book bears testament to the greatness -- the flawed greatness -- of FDR. His pragmatism and his ability to inspire his countrymen were invaluable tools as he strove to marshal a nation that was totally unprepared for war. What was surprising to me was Eleanor Roosevelt. Kearns paints her, warts and all, and the warts were plentiful. The impression I get of Eleanor was that she was a fierce liberal who saw the war not as an existential challenge to her country, but as an rare opportunity to get in place her extreme liberal agenda. I really don't think she saw the war as her husband did. She did a lot of good, particularly in helping eliminate racial barriers. But she hated corporations -- the very companies that made it possible for our nation to go to war with the resources they needed, especially petroleum. She tended to be blinded by her leftwing ideology and simply didn't understand or care about whether or not the private sector had the incentives to make the massive changes that turned us into the Arsenal of Democracy. FDR got it; Eleanor didn't. Also, this book reveals the very human side of its protagonists, especially the very strange relationship between the president and the first lady. Well, I could go on, but suffice it to say that this is a very profound book which reveals the tenor of one of the most challenging times in our history. If you're a Baby Boomer, especially if you have never studied much about the WWII homefront, you absolutely have to read this book. The times it chronicles are the foundation upon which the modern America is built. Kudos to Kearns Goodman for an outstanding piece of work. ...more info
  • Roosevelt propaganda
    FDR was the second worst president in U.S. history after Bill Clinton. He bankrupted the U.S. economy, he made us a socialist nation, and brainwashed us with filthy Soviet propaganda during World War II. Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Roosevelt worshipper. Steer clear of works like this and instead read John Flynn's "The Roosevelt Myth"....more info
  • a sensitive report/biography
  • Great read!
    I was sitting on an airplane reading TEAM OF RIVALS. The man next to me said, "If you enjoy that one, you need to read NO ORDINARY TIME. He was correct. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Goodwin did a fantastic job on both of these books. It even made me go back to FRANKLIN AND WINSTON, the book about that relationship during WWII, to compare notes. ...more info
  • The Human Side of History
    Doris Kearns Goodwin did a remarkable job of not only recounting the hietorical events which took place from 1940 to 1945 but especially of giving us - the readers - an insight into the feelings and behavior of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanot Roosevelt and all the people surrounding them during this particularly trying period of time in our history. I was really impressed by the way she gained the insignts she did and by her skill as a writer in presnting them to us. All too often we learn about history as if it is merely a series of events which can be presented to us in a chronological chart denoting what happened and the date that it took place. Here, in this book, Goodwin filled in the "spaces" among the events by revealing to us how people felt not only about the events but also about one another as they tried to use their roles in life to move what was taking place in a direction which they felt was desireable.

    Franklin Roosevelt is portrayed as the consummate politician - practicing politics as "the art of the possible" ususually with a sense of what it was desireable to do, but always attending to the matter of how far he could go in the pursuit of what he felt should be done without loswing the powere which his position enabled him to exercise. Eleanor Roosevelt is portrayed both as a heroine - if you agree with her ideals and admire her peristent desire to bring about the changes she thinks should occur in our society - and as a very insensitive person blinded to her own egotism bu what she thought were her ideals. A complicated person, she seems ofte toplace her own needs ahead of every thing else because she is utterly convinced of the worthiness of the causes she espouses and the impotance of the role she must play in bringing them about. The relationship between Frnklin and Eleanor forms a great part of this story and leaves the reader with many questions to ponder, particularly with the effect that they both had on their children as they, themselves, played the role of mother and father.

    As the story is unfolded about this "no ordinary time" Goodwin does not spare us the painful exposure to the shortocomings of our society, particularly with reference to the treatment of Blacks and Jews which was so evident during this time. Over and over again we are reminded of the all too prevalent himan disosition to place nationality and culture and race ahead of humanity in defining our relationships with one another.

    She is an excellent historian and writer and I reccomend this book enthusiastically to any one....more info
  • Rooseveltiana
    Are there many Roosevelt lovers out there who are under 70? I'm one of them, but I can't for the life of me understand why. It is perhaps because of the low esteem in which I hold the Presidents of my life time: Kennedy, Johnson and so on. God, how low we have come. It is surely a period of unprecedented mediocrity in national leadership. Can one honestly compare Bush, Clinton, Carter, or Ford to the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Why is this? That FDR was hated in his time is now more understandable to me, as I hadn't before understood how radical his policies were. Of course, none of his experiments has lasted and this may explain why he is so easily loved. Only Social Security survives. I love the personal anecdotes the author has assembled to tell the story of the President's ordeal. We see again how much he suffered. Those four terms really were too much for him. The author of this work is a "petticoat historian," part of the feminist movement in history to tell the grand historical stories from the point of view of the bathroom and bedroom. If it were not deemed too personal and in bad taste, Goodwin would describe the President's bowel movements. One might very well say "why not?" but the point that bothers me is why such things are of such great interest to the author. Surely, the Battle of Stalingrad is a wee bit more important than Roosevelt's breakfast menu. Nonetheless, Goodwin is discreet and tasteful and, therefore, the anecdotes she shares are personal but never vulgar. She possesses an entrancing style, which makes this a quick and delightful read. That we have had such a sorry group of Presidents since FDR is a sad thing but, who knows?, with new crises approaching, the country may yet produce another great man. ...more info
  • A good look at a fascinating partnership.
    Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "No Ordinary Time" about FDR & Eleanor is a fine piece of writing that certainly belongs in anyone's American History library. Of course it is World History, but it is written from a very American perspective and thereby manages to relegate even Churchill to the wings.

    There is a degree of nearly strident feminism in the writing, not quite what one would call shrill, but the author's sympathies seem to lean decidedly toward Mrs. Roosevelt, often based on issues of sexual inequality. To be fair, Ms. Kearns Goodwin is about as harsh in her handling of racial prejudice
    and anti-semitism, both cases where FDR used Eleanor as a lightening rod.

    What emerges is nonetheless what most sources reveal: he was the instinctive politician who happened to be in the right place at the right time to make magic happen while she was a tireless social activist more in tune with the masses than with any one person. He could bend his principles when needed (either for the greater good of the whole or on occasion for his own selfish indulgences) whereas she was quite rigid and nearly incapable of intimacy.

    One can (or should) hardly judge them. It is enough to appreciate their complexity and their contrasts and to see how they played off one another so well. The real beauty of this book is that it allows us to do just that quite completely....more info

  • Private Life to Global Politics
    This book is quite a feat. It is about the War Years and the Presidency of FDR. It shows how from a underdeveloped nation concerning a war machinery it started to produce more airplanes, weapons, ships and tanks etc. than any nation in the world and which helped the West to win the war.
    The accounts of the bug summits in Casablanca, Teheran and Yalta are fascinating. Especially concerning Yalta, where the faith of the world and the faith of the president were both decided. The world would have peace soon, FDR would die days after the summit.

    But besides this big international political themes, politics inside the US is also addressed, especially the war industry and the role of black Americans and women in the war effort. This is done without it being something a historian should answer becase he has too, here it is really well done. In this all the role of Eleanor Roosevelt is highlighted.

    Another theme through the book is FDR's affair and Eleanor's reaction to it. I won't say too much, but this is also worth reading about. This is the best book about the Roosevelts in the white house during the war I have ever read. It deservidly got the Pulitzer Prize....more info

  • THE President and THE First Lady
    Growing up in the 1930s, my father knew of only one US President and First Lady until he was 16-years-old--Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. With remarkable skill and feeling, noted historian Goodwin in "No Ordinary Time" tells the story of likely the most remarkable couple of the 20th century. She focuses on the American home front and Roosevelt home front during the period surrounding and including World War II, when FDR prepared the country for war and served as a visionary world leader in the battle to defeat Germany, Japan, Italy and other Axis powers. Eleanor Roosevelt, the most politically active First Lady in US history, spearheaded and pressed her husband on various issues on the home front - segregation, housing, child care, among many others - while she was held at arms length or further away from conduct of the war. Somewhat estranged emotionally since Franklin's affair with Lucy Mercer years earlier, the couple still worked together brilliantly in what Goodwin aptly refers to as "No Ordinary Time."

    She also paints a superb picture of life in the White House, where friends of both Franklin and Eleanor lived for extended periods as if in a small hotel, and provides detailed portraits of the various characters there - FDR confidant Harry Hooper, his secretary Missy LeHand, Princess Martha of Norway, Eleanor's great friend Lorene "Hick" Hickok, young soldier Joe Lash, and daughter Anna Roosevelt, who served as FDR's personal secretary during the last year of his life. Using White House ushers' diaries as a primary source, she meticulously recounts daily lives - bad food from a White House chef that FDR was too tenderhearted to hire, guests and drinks at cocktail hour, and motoring junkets (one of FDR's passions) into the countryside.

    The Roosevelts' several second homes are featured as well - the family estate at Hyde Park with Eleanor's separate cottage; Shangri-La (now Camp David) in Maryland, Eleanor's apartment in New York City, and the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA, where FDR battled polio in his 30s and eventually died at age 63.

    In a bittersweet denouement, now widowed Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd returns to FDR's life to provide emotional support as his body fails. Five stars to all readers, and especially to older Baby Boomers like me who can learn what FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt meant to their country and to each other during the lives of our parents. ...more info
  • Superbly Moving and Informative
    This superb narrative gives us a very personal look at President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), and the U.S. home front just before and then during World War II. Author Doris Kearns Goodwin captures the tenor of the times as she takes us inside the Roosevelt White House. We see the charismatic President and his inner circle (which included Eleanor) skillfully leading the nation against Fascism. Goodwin focuses heavily on Eleanor, who was the President's advisor, gadfly, his "eyes and ears," and a magnetic force in her own right. Readers also see the couple's very human flaws, and their strained relationship based on devotion rather than romance. The President kept a mistress (Missy LeHand, then Lucy Mercer) while Eleanor had passionate friendships with a woman and with student leader Joseph Lash - future Pulitzer-winning author of "Eleanor and Franklin." Goodwin clearly admires the Roosevelt's as people and as leaders, but refuses to gloss over their flaws, nor some of the President's errors - interning Japanese Americans, not saving enough Jews from Hitler, and marginally combating racism.

    Ms. Goodwin captured the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for this superbly moving and readable narrative. The book is more dual biography than work of history, but should be of great interest to fans of either genre.
    ...more info
  • Who Edited This Book?
    When she discusses the Japanese losses at the battle of Midway she states the Japanese lost 4 aircraft carriers (true), 1 heavy cruiser (true), 3 battleships (completely, totally false). Who's supposed to edit this stuff? For a supposedly top notch historical book that's an absurd error to get through....more info
  • Great insight into why WWII events happened
    I have been a fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin after hearing her speak at a leadership conference. All of her descriptions of events were built around the people that made the key decisions or influenced the events to occur.

    This Pulitzer Prize book is equally well researched on both of the book's characters, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. In reading the book, you feel like you are actually living in the White House during the events leading up to and during the Depression and World War II.

    The author is so thorough in the details gathered from her research from diaries and letters, that the book is not a fast read. However it is a fascinating portrait of two extraordinary individuals that led our nation through extraordinary events and personally influenced historical change in the way we live as Americans that forever changed our fabric.

    I highly recommend to any Franklin or Eleanor Roosevelt reader...through this work, you cannot understand one without knowing the other....more info

  • Try Something Different
    I usually read mostly fiction, and I bought this book after reading about it in Oprah magazine (it's one of Judy Mueller's favorites). I agree with a lot of what other reviewers have said about this book, and especially of Doris Kearns Goodwin's considerable talent for telling history in the most fascinating and unsentimental way. What I'd like to add for those who may be considering the book is this: if you usually read fiction and you are looking for something new and utterly interesting, get this book. It's well written, researched and just a great read. I was sad when I finished it, like you sometimes feel after you finish a great book of fiction, when you feel like you miss the characters. (Has this happened to you?) Also, the topic of the book - fighting a war against a fascist aggressor - from the POV of the homefront is very timely when you consider the "war" we're fighting now, and how Americans are again being asked to set aside our isolationist tendencies and work to make the world safer. Having read this book, I feel I've got a lot more perspective about the situation....more info
  • No Ordinary Biography
    Doris Kearns Goodwin has given us a treasure in "No Ordinary Time," a vivid, intimate, informative, and readable biography of FDR and Eleanor during the WWII years, as well as a history of the time itself. This book is doubly relevant now, because since 9/11/01, we too are living in anything but an "ordinary time." We don't know what is going to happen next, and neither does anyone else...including the White House. In their time, neither Franklin nor Eleanor knew what was coming next. The anxiety and weight of responsibility certainly took a toll on both of them. Kearns is unabashedly a fan of both FDR and Eleanor, but this does not prevent her from revealing their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Highly recommend....more info
  • Ordinary Account of an ordinarily rich politician
    It's ok - It really wasn't what I expected, which would have been a narrative about FDR and the New Deal - I assumed that the title referred to the Depression. In typical Doris Kearns Goodwin fashion, it focuses on the elitist details - a life of a politician who vacationed in Campobello, his fat cat friends in the White House and Congress and his celebrity family friends - nothing about the struggles of ordinary soldiers or the little people whose lives were altered by FDR's wartime policies. To be honest, I spent more time reflecting on the life and values of the author than on the subject of the biography - what a pity....more info
  • Stunningly Good
    Doris Kearns Goodwin won the Pulitzer Prize for this book and it is an award she richly deserves. This book is basically a study of Franklin Roosevelt's role as the Commander-in-Chief on the home front. "His leadership of the home front was the essential condition of military victory." Kearns Goodwin adds, "To understand Roosevelt and his leadership is to understand the nation whose strengths and weaknesses he mirrored and magnified." At the same time, she also studies the relationship between the President and his wife. Eleanor Roosevelt was no ordinary First Lady and made a real effort to shape policy. "At a time when her husband was preoccupied with winning the war, Eleanor Roosevelt insisted that the struggle would not be worth winning if the old order of things prevailed" (p. 10 for all quotes).

    As a book designed for the general public, "No Ordinary Time" is exceptionally well-written. There is a general belief, though, that popular historians often sacrifice substances for form and high sales. While there is something to that that view, it is totally off the mark in this case. In writing this book, Kearns Goodwin challenges an old idea that FDR subscribed to: that wars kill domestic reforms. Many political historians of the Progressive Era, the Jazz Age, the New Deal, and the Fair Deal have argued various points associated with viewpoint: did the First and Second World Wars kill off the prewar reform movements, or just put them on hold; was the movement for change that followed each conflict a continuation of the prewar cause or were they something different. Kearns Goodwin argues instead that Eleanor Roosevelt was largely successful; that reform and social change continued during the war. The conflict had a transforming effect on American society and did not kill the New Deal, despite what FDR said. She supports this point with a number of good examples, arguing there is a direct link between the New Deal and the Fair Deal.

    Kearns Goodwin got into trouble a few years back with charges of plagiarism on another book. Putting the merit of those accusations aside--it was after all a different project--one need not worry about this book. Kearns Goodwin offers her readers a wonderful read and some thought provoking views of the past. It is a book that will appeal to generalists and specialists alike. It is well worth both your time and money.
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  • Great story
    My wife and I really enjoyed this CD. We heard Doris Kearns Goodwin speak at the Paramount theater in Oakland. Wonderful writer and speaker. One minor nit-picking complaint - the speaker mentioned FDR was able to keep several balls afloat. I suspect he meant to say he was able to keep several balls aloft....more info
  • Kearns-Goodwin Excels Again
    After listening to an abridged audio of this book, I bought the paperback as Kearns-Goodwin is a master at getting to the heart of individuals she chronicles. I was not disappointed - the book richly fills in the details which the abridged audio simply must omit. I became a fan of Kearns-Goodwin after reading "Team of Rivals" about Abraham Lincoln's decision to include in his cabinet those who rivaled his nomination for the presidency. Both Roosevelt and Lincoln led our nation through some of its most troubling history. Eleanor's influence on FDR, and her subsequent personal journey after his infidelity, are touchingly described through interviews and comments from those closest to her. The mutual influence each had on the other's ability to understand the times and lead the nation through the depression and world war - he in the political and economic sphere, and she through her insights into the social impact of governmental policy - are interwoven with accounts of the personal tradegies which fractured their marital relationship yet strengthened their love and respect for the other. Throughout the narrative it seems Goodwin keeps in mind the sentiment that gave great comfort to Eleanor after FDR's death: "They are not dead who live in lives they leave behind. In those whom they have blessed they live a life again." ...more info