Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin

The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a searching new analysis of primary sources, NBCC award winner James Tobin reveals how FDR’s fight against polio transformed him from a callow aristocrat into the energetic, determined statesman who would rally the nation in the Great Depression and lead it through World War II.

Here, from James Tobin, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, is the story of the greatest comeback in American political history, a saga long buried in half-truth, distortion and myth— Franklin Roosevelt’s ten-year climb from paralysis to the White House. 


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Franklin D. Roosevelt was 39 years old when he was stricken with infantile paralysis (polio). Just one day he couldn’t stand up anymore and the hope for a fast recovery faded fast when he just got worse and the doctor had no clue to what had stricken him and in the end misdiagnosed him.

Precious time was wasted before another doctor recognized what ailed him and by then it was too late for Roosevelt to ever walk again properly. He would have to rely on other people to support himself to stand, or a cane, leg braces or a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Still, he became, in the end, the president of the United States.

I find Franklin D. Roosevelt's life fascinating and this book was a very interesting and well-written account of his life just before he was stricken with infantile paralysis, his period of illness and his struggle to walk again and reclaim his life and career again. I found the best part of the book was 2/3 of the book that focused on Roosevelt and how infantile paralysis struck him and how his life was forever changed because of it. The ending of the book was not bad; it was just a bit too much about politics for me. Besides learning more about Roosevelt was it interesting to learn more about infantile paralysis what a devastating illness it was.

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