FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT was unique in winning four consecutive presidential elections. Coming to office during the Great Depression, he led the United States through most of the Second World War, dying in April 1945. During the FDR years, the United States confirmed itself as the world's pre-eminent superpower. At home, Roosevelt abolished Prohibition and presided over that extraordinary economic experiment, the New Deal. Yet despite all that, he remains (at least in European minds) a much less vivid character than his ultimately less successful contemporaries - Hitler, Stalin and Winston Churchill.
What was he like, and what was the secret of his success? Roy Jenkins makes a persuasive case that it was Roosevelt's confidence that did the trick, time after time. The cigarette, the jaunty fedora, the infectious optimism born of self-belief. It seems amazing how far that could take a