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It’s the last week of my “Thumbs Up Tuesdays” series. I’ve shared four other favorite books (find links below) and today I’m celebrating all things Roosevelt.

Sunday night I watched Part One of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS. As always, filmmaker Ken Burns did a wonderful job sharing the history and development of this influential family. The series has people talking, among them UW-Green Bay professor Harvey J. Kaye. He gives a nicely balanced view, noting that Burns’s “failure to deeply appreciate popular struggles from the bottom up, especially the struggles of the working people, leads him to obscure too much of our past and essentially inhibits our understanding of the making of history.”

The Roosevelts is by filmmaker Ken Burns

While I appreciate Kaye’s idea, the real focus of The Roosevelts was just that: the families of Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the role they played in shaping American history. The working people are part of the story, central to how both men led: as police commissioner, Theodore took to the streets to make sure his men weren’t taking bribes and believed class distinctions had no place in democratic society. Franklin’s New Deal changed the government’s relationship to its people.

Instead of sharing just one book for Thumbs Up Tuesdays, the PBS program inspired me to take out several of my favorite Roosevelt books and share them here, in no special order:

David McCullough is a respected American historian and author

by David McCullough

The Roosevelts by Peter Collier with David Horowitz

Theodore Rex and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

I’m partial to David McCullough – I’ve read many of his books and thoroughly enjoy his writing style, which makes history seem a very real and necessary thing to know and learn from.

That’s also why I’m enjoying The Roosevelts on PBS. This seven-part, fourteen hour film follows the clan for more than a century, starting with the post-Civil War years when America was redefining itself and its role in global affairs. The Roosevelts – Theodore and Franklin – used their personalities and influence to mold and guide America along its path, which at times was murky and uncertain.

The men had faults: Theodore could be a brash steamroller, overly enthusiastic, at times too eager to make things happen. Franklin came across as patrician and aloof, letting people think they had influenced him when he had no intention of following their lead.

Interesting, isn’t it, how they are both considered great leaders despite, or maybe because of, these character traits.

If you missed earlier “Thumbs Up Tuesdays,” here they are:

Thumbs Up Tuesdays One

Thumbs Up Tuesdays Two

Thumbs Up Tuesdays Three

Thumbs Up Tuesdays Four

 

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