Over the past three months, I’ve spent what little reading time I could grab making my way through Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment. I began the book just as the presidential debates got underway and have just finished it as president-elect Obama announced his planned public works program as part of his solution to the present economic crisis and have found the overlaps between Alter’s book and the current events intriguing.
Alter’s book purports to be a report of Franklin Roosevelt’s first hundred days in office, but the book is much more (and much less) than that. It’s more of a reflection on the ways in which FDR reinvented the presidency as well as how and why he did so. Wile the book does go back to look briefly at Roosevelt’s upbringing, it spends most of its discussion on the deepening Depression with its focus beginning early 1933, when stock values had decreased, exports were at their lowest in decades, and unemployment was rapidly rising. Alter seems to focus on the ways in which
I particularly enjoyed the insights that Alter provided into how FDR and Eleanor together –intentionally and unintentionally- reshaped the role of the First Lady and why they did so. Alter also tells many of the standard