Joseph Perico’s latest book is called Franklin and Lucy: “President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherford, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life.” This is an incredibly readable and engaging history of President Roosevelt as seen through the lens of his relationships with women. Unsurprisingly, the book deals primarily Eleanor and Lucy Rutherford.
Overall I thought this book to be fantastic, it read very easily for the most part and had some interesting new research. It is a book I would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in the history of any of these people. Much of the first half of the book was devoted to Eleanor and it was perhaps her psyche that was most deeply explored of any.
The most difficult thing for me in reading this book was finding its true sense of purpose. I was not sure if it was meant to be simply a history of FDR told through his relationships with the variety of women in his life, or if it was supposed to be more about the women and their relationships with FDR, and how those relationships influenced his presidency. My frustration was that I believed the goal to be the latter and, while it was present, the former dominated. I finally achieved peace with this in the last chapter of the book, entitled “A Judgement” which was really Perico’s summation of his work. In this I learned that the purpose of the book tended more towards a different lens through which to write an FDR biography, which just happened to include the psychological effects on Franklin that these relationships had. That being the case, these peeks into FDR’s development were merely a welcome treat. It would not hurt, however, for future editions to have more of a thesis statement in the introduction than is currently there.
The other thing that bothered me while reading the book was a lack of mention of Japanese internment during the war. However, this omission is easily explained if this was not something Roosevelt particularly discussed with the women in his life so, while it bothers me, I do not think it necessarily a failing of the book.
Viewing history through relationships often makes it much more accessible for the casual studier. No matter your degree of knowledge of and familiarity with FDR and his presidency, this book is worth reading.
Buy this book on Amazon: Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life