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The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series - Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life

Tuesday, April 10, 2018: 6:30 PM - 7:45 PM

Venue: The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom

Add To Calendar   10/04/2018 18:30:00 10/04/2018 19:45:00 America/Atikokan The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series - Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life Tuesday, April 10, 6:30-7:45 p.m. | Join The Filson Historical Society for the latest installment in our Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series, Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life with Robert Dallek The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom, 5101 US HWY 42, Louisville, Kentucky, 40241 The Filson Historical Society info@filsonhistorical.org false DD/MM/YYYY


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In an era of such great national divisiveness, there could be no more timely biography of one of our greatest presidents than one that focuses on his unparalleled political ability as a uniter and consensus maker. Robert Dallek’s Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life takes a fresh look at the many compelling questions that have attracted all his biographers: how did a man who came from so privileged a background become the greatest presidential champion of the country’s needy? How did someone who never won recognition for his intellect foster revolutionary changes in the country’s economic and social institutions? How did Roosevelt work such a profound change in the country’s foreign relations?  For FDR, politics was a far more interesting and fulfilling pursuit than the management of family fortunes or the indulgence of personal pleasure, and by the time he became president, he had commanded the love and affection of millions of people. While all Roosevelt’s biographers agree that the onset of polio at the age of thirty-nine endowed him with a much greater sense of humanity, Dallek sees the affliction as an insufficient explanation for his transformation into a masterful politician who would win an unprecedented four presidential terms, initiate landmark reforms that changed the American industrial system, and transform an isolationist country into an international superpower.  Dallek attributes FDR’s success to two remarkable political insights. First, unlike any other president, he understood that effectiveness in the American political system depended on building a national consensus and commanding stable long-term popular support. Second, he made the presidency the central, most influential institution in modern America’s political system. In addressing the country’s international and domestic problems, Roosevelt recognized the vital importance of remaining closely attentive to the full range of public sentiment around policy-making decisions—perhaps FDR’s most enduring lesson in effective leadership. Robert Dallek is the author of Camelot’s Court, An Unfinished Life, and Nixon and Kissinger, among other books. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and Vanity Fair. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, for which he served as president in 2004–2005.  Praise “Meticulously researched and authoritative. . . . Adequate single-volume biographies about FDR abound. But none are as heroically objective and wide-angled as this fine Dallek effort. . . . By tapping into the vast correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt, Dallek discerns a more strained relationship between the leaders than presupposed. . . . Luckily for us, Roosevelt is with us again in Dallek’s outstanding cradle-to-grave study. When it comes to choosing the two indispensable presidents in U.S. history, Dallek places Roosevelt alongside Abraham Lincoln, the other great improviser with Providence on his side.” —Douglas Brinkley, The Washington Post “Dallek fully incorporates into his narrative Roosevelt’s complicated, conflicted relationship with the several women in his life and is especially good on the role Eleanor played, as goad and political advisor. He also makes it clear, in a way other biographers do not, that almost from the moment he entered office, Roosevelt set out to educate the nation to the fact that the United States was threatened not only by economic depression at home, but also by fascist aggressions abroad. . . . Dallek’s is a workmanlike addition to the literature on Roosevelt.” —David Nasaw, The New York Times “Dallek constantly seeks to find an answer to FDR’s political trajectory: What fueled his ambition to serve in the political arena and with what political aims? Also the extent to which it was FDR’s experiences—abroad as a child, then at school, at Harvard, in the New York legislature—that determined his later progress in the real world. Undergirding all of these, Dallek sees Roosevelt’s moral war on deceit and corruption. In an era in which moral, linguistic, and financial corruption hold sway, this story could not be more timely. . . . From beginning to end Dallek has earnestly followed his own curiosity as a citizen and as a teacher, so that at last we come to see in FDR the magisterial, central figure in the greatest and richest political tapestry of our nation’s entire history.” —Nigel Hamilton, Boston Globe
The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series - Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life

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