His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had already transcended history as the first three-term President of the U.S. He had battled polio, the Great Depression, and various political foes and basked in adulation of the populace. As of 1943, World War II was turning in the Allies’ favor but was not a sure thing. Alliances were still being cemented with the USSR, and Roosevelt’s health was starting to decline. The Russians and the Americans were each concerned with battles on the European and Asian fronts, but no definitive plans had been reached. Roosevelt was hearing different opinions with respect to the Soviets from his advisors. The war was a few years in, but a post-war future loomed. As 1944 began, FDR debated running for a fourth term…Health and politics weighed equally. FDR would run a limited campaign with a new VP running mate and defeat Tom Dewey, but his days would be numbered. The war would consume FDR until his final breath on April 12, 1945.
Joseph Lelyveld’s biography of the thirty-third President puts the last eighteen months of his life under a fine lens. The troubles facing the country and the world placed a heavy burden on an increasingly weakened Roosevelt. His heart condition was kept a secret and his blood pressure was skyrocketing, but Roosevelt kept working toward peace. Lelyveld has done a great service by illustrating the perils of leading a country.
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