Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black; That Man: An Insider's Portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt by Robert H Jackson - review by Charles Wheeler

Charles Wheeler

The American Engima

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1280pp £30 order from our bookshop

That Man: An Insider's Portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt

By

Oxford University Press 290pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

IN A PREFACE to this monumental biography Conrad Black pays tribute to his publisher's editor, William Whitworth. Their dealings, he tells us, were often abrasive, and conducted entirely by e-mail. He hopes that their intense relationship will eventually lead to an actual meeting. Intriguing. I wonder whether a hard-pressed Whitworth might have suggested cuts. If so, he was overruled. Black's opus is defiantly, self-indulgently long, and for the most part a painstaking recital of facts, culled from the record of a period the author is not old enough to remember.

Not that his life of Roosevelt is without merit. Speed through the first 400 pages, which cover acres of well-trodden ground in excruciating detail. and you'll reach the heart of the matter: Roosevelt's struggle with America's isolationists, his blatant evasion of the neutrality laws and his creative if erratic relationship

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