May 15, 2015

BEST Book Yet: No Ordinary TIme by Doris Kearns Goodwin

No Ordinary Time
I have been in the process of reading some very thought provoking books lately. My latest conquest was the book about the WWII years in the White House called No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. The book by Doris Kearns Goodwin took me almost day by day through one of the most difficult periods our country has ever had to endure...and I loved every page of it.

I grew up in that era. When I was a high school student in the mid 50's things were not always as they appeared in the history books. Even at that age I was a lover of books and what I read then is not at all what was really going on.

For example, because of what I read I believed that we had done the right thing for the right people. But at Kearns knee I learned that while we tried to resolve the Jewish issue after the war, it was our own government and its employees that resolved to withhold help when we knew it was badly needed because of anti-semitism. The Nazis took this as permission to carry out some horrible deeds. I felt as angry the day I read that as I would have if I had know at the time.

The actors on that stage were not who I thought they were. The Roosevelts put on a very good show but....

Eleanor Roosevelt has alway been a hero of mine. She seemed almost motherly and perfect in so many ways. That was the way history had painted her. But the real Eleanor emerged on the pages of the book as flawed, frightened, obsessed, a nagging wife and, in the end, brilliant. Even though the Roosevelts did not share a married life, they did share in the responsibilities of the presidency. She was his most trusted eyes on the nation and advisor in that theater.

FDR was an amazing man that led the charge against Hitler while collecting stamps, drinking cocktails everyday and watching movies. His brainchild, the Lend-Lease Program, was born of chaos in a country that did not want to go to war. He did what was necessary by running an end around play with the Republican congress.

He promised that our young men would never be drafted into national service and did exactly that very thing. Because of his kind of leadership, he convince the people that he had no choice. And he probably didn't.

As for rationing, I had to laugh when I discovered that the reason gas was initially rationed was not because we didn't have gas. It was because we didn't have rubber. No gas, less driving, less need for new tires! Genius I thought!

When I was in school we were not told that he was a crippled man suffering the results of polio. In fact, I don't think my parents were entirely aware of the fact when I was young. His leadership style was so laid back and he could live with so much turmoil around him it is amazing what he accomplished. Somehow he knew that the best path would emerge out of all the noise around him.

He was a man with a soft heart, could not fire anyone and remained in love with a woman not his wife until his death. You will find him to be a "momma's boy" and untrustworthy, not unlike politicians of today. Yet, he did what seemed impossible because he made the American people believe that they could do just that. I was awestruck.

Of course this is a ***** book and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It was a very entertaining read and well worth my time. Even though you may think it might be dry and boring, it was anything but. I will never see that era in the same way ever again. But then it is all good...I needed a good dose of reality. There was nothing in that war that was romantic and the thought that kept crossing my mind was that, given even the smallest change in the way it played out, history could have been very, very different.

Check it out, buy it or borrow it. You will not regret it.

b+




8 comments:

  1. I think Doris Kearn is wonderful
    I'm not sure what you mean by "the Jewish issue after the war." Do you mean that we turned Jews away--to certain death. That we liberated them from concentration camps only to put them into DP camps--and expect them to stay there like good sheep?

    I've known about FDR's fallacies since I was a child. Maybe because I come from a political family , maybe because we're Jewish though knew no survivors then, maybe just because we're from NY. It turned my mother into a believer in conspiracy theories though she looked like an adorable affluent woman. It turned my father into a person who loved Nixon then Reagan.
    My sister and I chose to believe he would have changed again as he was always socially progressive and would have had to have loved Bill!
    I think knowledge is a great thing but it also makes us jaded. I love Bill because of his personality, passion and heart not because of his politics.

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    1. Pia, I am not sure what I meant by that. I was always under the impression that the Jewish people were given some choices but my husband tells me that they were not allowed to return to Germany. I hear a lot of bitterness in your words and I think that tells more of the story than any book could. I was 3 or 4 when the war ended so I really do only know what I read. Can you recommend a book dealing with post war period that would reveal the truth? Or is it still hidden under a pile of anti-semitism?

      I think that we were not in tune with the true story was a result of where we lived. Those of you that lived on the East coast saw things we were never privy to...no TV or anything like it.

      Thank you for stopping by and voicing your thoughts.

      As for Clinton, I share your love of the man.

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  2. I also loved reading No Ordinary Time. In addition to the insights on the Roosevelts and their war roles, I loved the way Doris Kearns Goodwin wove in so much background about the times--how the war affected women (and not just Rosie the Riveter), homelife and even cooking. Thanks for bringing it all back.

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    1. I was struck by the campaign the government promoted using magazines as their voice. Even though a majority of the women that entered the workforce during that period of time wanted to keep a job, magazines published articles promoting the idea that woman wanted to return home and take care of their husbands, cook and raise a family. In the end I think women bought the notion and went back home to "do their duty". Evidently the worry was that women would take jobs away from returning service men. It is all very interesting.

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  3. It actually sounds pretty fascinating. I love stuff like this. I will definitely check it out!

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    1. Rena, you will simply love it. I read it like I would eat an elephant...in very small bites. I think I understood more doing it that way. Enjoy!

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  4. I really enjoyed The Roosevelts, the documentary by Ken Burns which aired on PBS. It sounds like I'd enjoy this book too. Love Doris Kearns Goodwin (and Bill!). Thanks for the tip!

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    1. I am going to watch the Ken Burns documentary. I am all prepped for it now.

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