Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching and Discovery by Ann Atkins

ISBN #: 978-0983478409
Page Count: 176
On Sale: October 1, 2011

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Noble cause?
Have a dream that needs direction?

Whatever the scale of your rendezvous with destiny, the fact remains it is up to you to live it.  Eleanor's story is a "do it yourself" guide that shows us how to:
  • Persevere in the face of betrayal, critics and exhaustion
  • Leverage media tools to educate the public
  • Discern core issues behind the raucous babble
  • Forge friendships for just causes and personal support
  • Maintain a noble heart in times of trouble
From a childhood plagued with drunks and drama queens, Eleanor must now discard her dependency on Franklin and face off with her grand dame mother-in-law.  Refusing to cave in to society's rules, Eleanor's exuberant style, wavering voice and lack of Hollywood beauty are fodder for the media.

First Lady for thirteen years, Eleanor redefines and exploits this role to a position of power.  Using her influence she champions for Jews, African Americans and women.

Living through two world wars Eleanor witnesses thousands of graves, broken bodies and grieving families.  After visiting troops in the Pacific she says:

"If we don't make this a more decent world to live in I don't see how we can look these boys in the eyes."

She defies a post-war return to status quo and establishes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights within the U.N.  She earns her way to being named "First Lady of the World."

The audacity of this woman to live out her own destiny challenges us to do the same.  After all, it's not about Eleanor.  HER STORY is history.

HER LIFE shows us how to live.

Kathy's Review:

Imagine my surprise.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book.  I wasn't expecting to fly through it in two days, either.  But I did both.  Quick and easy to read, this biography of Eleanor Roosevelt is part of the "Flash History" series.  The book is formatted into four sections.  Each section has a "Flash - Context and Comments" section which gives some of the political flavor and backstory to what was going on during this time in history.  The chapters about Eleanor follow, and each section closes with "Reflections for the Reader."  It seems as if this book may be meant for a high school or college class, and the reflections are a way to spark discussion.  Some try to tie Eleanor's life to modern times and events.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how the author made Eleanor so accessible to the reader.  She was a regular woman with insecurities, struggles, and a great need to be loved.  Her childhood is something out of a Jane Austen novel.  Even her marriage to FDR has its fair share of turmoil.  When you hear about Eleanor Roosevelt in a history class, you think of a stuffy, dignified character.  It seems as if she was anything but stuffy.  Not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for her beliefs, Eleanor was a truly inspirational woman.

It was also eye-opening for me to read about the civil rights causes that she championed.  Particularly with race relations and the lynchings that took place during her time.  It's horrific to think that these things happened not that long ago in history.

Peppered throughout the book are quotes from Eleanor's writings, which in themselves are great words to live by.  Here is an example: "Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."

I recommend this book to all women who want to be inspired, and those who want to learn more about a remarkable former First Lady.  If you do order the book, I recommend that you do so through  The author, Ann Atkins, will donate $1 to charity for each order placed.  It seems like something Eleanor herself would smile upon.

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