Doris Kearns Goodwin - No Ordinary Time: Franklin And Eleanor Roosevelt, The Home Front In World War II

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No Ordinary Times By Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin

Mar 9, 2002 (Updated Mar 9, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Readability; importance of the times the book covers

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: If you are interested in history and specifically in the period after the Depression and WWII, No Ordinary Time is a great book for you!


After reading this book, I came to one conclusion: Goodwin has given made history accessible not only the history buffs but also to the masses. She has written a book with popular appeals about a very important period of our American history. Anybody who pays attention to the period following the Great Depression and the beginning of the European conflict culminating into WWII will appreciate No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a pulitzer-winning author who has been on tv in our living room. History is beautiful. It's about human behavior, actions and interactions for the best or for the worst. In FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt's case, we have been able to see a First Couple who managed to rise to the occasion by putting their own lives to the service of this great nation and the world. Eventually, the US will get involved into WWII. By the way, in case you are interested in reading more of Goodwin's books, you can check the following titles: "Wait Till Next Year: Summer Afternoon With My Father & Baseball," "The Fitzgeralds & The Kennedys: An American Saga," and "Lyndon Johnson & The American Dream."

Besides the overall views of the times, the most interesting parts of the 636-page book are about the "home front." In other words, how this war affected us on a national level. Goodwin spent countless hours interviewing those who knew the Roosevelts and sifting through archives to write this book. Her body of work will speak for itself despite the predicament that she has found herself in lately. She is the most casualty of the series of errors of attribution that tend to damage the reputation and credibility of well-known historians. First, it was Joseph Ellis, then it was Stephen Ambrose's turn. Now it's Goodwin's.

The US and Allied Forces Determined to realign Hitler's Germany

A peek at home front

Indeed, it was no ordinary time. What else was on power-hungry Hitler's mind after the invasion of France, Luxembourg, Holland, and Belgium? Russia would be next. Hitler's troops would not be satisfied. So the US had to go to the defensive. The 1940s were hard times indeed. While men were being drafted for the war efforts, women were leaving home and replacing them in the businesses and the booming defense industry. The men were about to fight in the greatest battles of their lives. They would fight valiantly on many European stages to liberate French, Dutch, Belgians and many others from the grips of Hitler's invading army. To facilitate the women working outside the home, many services were organized. For example, day care, food services and laundries were set in place. It was the greatest opportunities for the minority groups including women and people of color, specially African Americans who, before these times, used to serve in support services. Even the army itself had to go through some changes. On the battle fields of Europe, there came a time when being black or white did not matter that much in front of the enemy bullets. The ranks of the army became integrated. Even though, for a lot of these good will soldiers, the true measures of change would have to go through the trials of reality when they returned home.

No Ordinary Time tells us about the intimate lives of the Roosevelts themselves in those times.

While Franklin Delano Roosevelt managed to maintain a good rapport with some leaders of the Allied Forces such as Winston Churchill, the same could not be said for his private relationship with his wife, Eleanor. The pressures of the times, war effort and reconstruction of the country's economy appeared to have a great toll on the man who survived polio. No Ordinary Time has passages about the long relationship he had with his social secretary, Lucy Mercer. (Who believed that former President Clinton was the first president to have had an affair?). When he was caught, he promised his wife that he would never see Lucy again. Apparently, according to the arrangements of one of his children, his daughter, Anna, he was still in contact with the woman all those years. She was even there for him at his funerals. We must add that some people believed that it was a purely platonic relationship. Not much was going on between the two. No matter what, Eleanor did not put her own interests before those of the nation. She decided to stay in the marriage. She did not seek any divorce. This would cause such a scandal at a time when the country was at war with some barbaric foreign forces. I have learned to appreciate the true contributions of this great First Woman. Whether she chose to keep her marriage with Franklin because of political consequences or her marriage became a relationship of convenience, it worked out well. Her inaction added to her reputation.

This is a good read if you want to know more about WWII, the greatest generation who fought valiantly in Europe, the Roosevelts and the home front efforts, No Ordinary Time is a great recommendation.


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