Beyond the myth
Finally, the last book in the trio deals with a man for whom the myth approaches glory: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Few presidents have undergone more biographical treatment than FDR, but series general editor Arthur Schlesinger Jr. sought a somewhat different view. To give this book a freshness for American readers, British biographer, Labour politician and peer of the realm Roy Jenkins (Lord Jenkins of Hillhead) was chosen to profile FDR. Jenkins offers an interesting outsider's assessment of both Roosevelt and the American state he led and indelibly changed. Jenkins skillfully explores the "American aristocracy" that produced the young Franklin Roosevelt and shows how his relationships within that social structure (and the example of his illustrious distant cousin, Theodore) influenced his character. The book reveals FDR in his remarkable political achievements and his equally stunning missteps, examining how these contributed to his development into the pre-eminent world leader in World War II and resulted in making the United States the dominant force in world affairs, a role it retains today. Howard Shirley is a writer in Nashville.