Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 - Blanche Wiesen Cook
Before there was Hillary, there was Eleanor. The third volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook’s magisterial biography, Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After (Viking, $40), covers the period from 1939 to 1962, completing Cook’s comprehensive and widely praised portrait of FDR’s wife with an account of the time when she most passionately fought for civil rights—battling against both racial and religious prejudices. In her daily newspaper columns and regular lecture tours, the first lady confronted the pre-war climate of xenophobia and bigotry, pushing for more generous immigration policies, especially for the burgeoning number of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Later, when the State Department refused to honor her pleas on behalf of wartime refugees, Mrs. Roosevelt’s controversial crusade made her hated by many Americans, mocked by the press, and targeted by the FBI, which monitored her mail. Although Cook never mentions Hillary Clinton, her admiring, unfailingly fascinating biography makes clear that the independent and courageous 32nd first lady is Hillary’s ideal role model. And though Eleanor dismissed the idea of ever holding public office herself, she was the first First Lady to speak at a political convention, and she accepted President Truman’s post-war appointment to serve as a U.S. delegate to the U.N., a position in which Cook believes she demonstrated leadership and diplomatic skills.