Review of Unlikely Heroes, by Derek Leebaert

Now available for pre-order. Release date: February 28, 2023.

Derek Leebaert suggests that four members of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration were outsiders, and somehow crippled, as he would become, yet they implemented the programs of the New Deal, leading America out of the Great Depression and to victory in World War II.

Roosevelt’s top advisors were Harry Lloyd Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Henry Wallace, and, uncharacteristically for the times, a woman, Frances Perkins. Each of these men and woman struggled with obstacles such as poor physical health, depression, alcoholism, complicated married life, questionable mental health, and ruined personal finances.

I don’t agree with Leebaert’s premise that Roosevelt purposely recruited wounded outsiders who brilliantly carried America from depression to thriving post-WWII. Time enhances history with a more intimate examination of a public individual’s private life. If we could look through the same lenses at four top administrators in today’s White House, I’m sure we would see the same sordid and sorrowful circumstances which plagued those of this book. No one is without problems.

Yet, if you are a student of American History, and especially of the period covered here, you will find this book to be a detailed look at the inner-workings of the Roosevelt presidency.

#FDR #WWII #NetGalley #arc

@DLeebaert @StMartinsPress