I’m sorry about the lack of posts in recent weeks but with the semester in full swing it has been a grinding period at work. I’ll have more posts in the coming days and weeks. Last Saturday I was in Oyster Bay for the Theodore Roosevelt Association conference. It was great seeing some folks again and meeting new people as well. The talks were great. After lunch I took a cab to Sagamore Hill with a couple from Texas who I had met that very morning. The three of us had split an earlier cab getting from the Glen Cove train station to the conference hall. I had never been to Sagamore before. It was rewarding to share the experience with others who have a strong knowledge of the topic. Because there is so much to see–I am fully aware that I missed a great deal in just our 2-3 hour jaunt–I’ll probably go back during a warmer weekend this winter.
Yesterday I finished Hissing Cousins: The Lifelong Rivalry of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. I don’t know untold the story was, but the authors did a fine job of conveying the complicated relationship between the two women who between them lived in the White House for twenty years. I saw the co-authors (and married couple) speak at the Roosevelt House on East 65th Street a few years ago and spoke briefly to one of them. One thing the Ken Burns’s Roosevelt documentary did well was show how the two sides of the family interconnect in all its human complexity. The authors of this dual Alice and Eleanor biography have done the same.
This weekend I began James MacGregor Burns’s Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox. The book came out a full sixty years ago, in 1956,and straddles a line between history and current events. It is volume one of an eventual two volume work and ends in 1940 on the cusp of the Second World War. Volume two came out out in 1970. I’m reading it with the awareness and caveat that James Burns was an open admirer of FDR. As a cog in the political/academic nexus of the 1940s-60s though, I suppose this was inevitable. My impression however is that Burns did not lapse into the role of court historian the way Arthur Schlesinger Jr. did. The Lion and the Fox is a political biography and I am looking forward to hearing what Burns has to say about young Roosevelt as assistant navy secretary during WW1.