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Since the Department of State then operated out ofthe Old Executive Office Building, just steps away from the White House, FDR figured his main economic adviser would be close enough to run over when summoned, but not so close as to upset Howe. [...] in the Hundred Days this assistant secretary of state spearheaded the New Deal banking initiative that overthrew America's traditional laissez-faire stand and forever made the Federal government responsible for ensuring the stability of the nation's banks. [...] he was so good at it that historians are still trying to catch up.
A shows that this misses the mark. FDR’s ear was open to a variety of people inside ing the exact opposite of what he had apparently agreed to. Eleanor Roosevelt Team and outside of his Administration and party. The real lines of authority and influ- noticed Churchill’s frustration, no doubt in empathy, and explained to him that of Rebels ence in the Roosevelt White House defied the organization chart. By concentrating “when Franklin says ‘yes, yes, yes’ it doesn’t mean he’s agreeing, it just means on the roles of key Presidential appoint- he’s listening.” Secretary of War Henry Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner ees—Raymond Moley, Lewis W. Doug- L. Stimson compared trying to pin down Circle and the Hundred Days las, Henry A. Wallace, Frances Perkins, Roosevelt to “chasing a vagrant beam That Created Modern America and Harry L. Hopkins—Cohen dem- of sunshine around a vacant room.” By Adam Cohen onstrates how these underlings shaped Cohen argues that FDR’s thoughts do Penguin. the legendary Hundred Days through not really matter. He points out that dur- 372 pp. $29.95. “force of will and talent,” and how they ing the 1932 campaign Roosevelt con- pushed the New Deal in directions FDR demned Herbert Hoover for overseeing Reviewed by never anticipated. “the greatest spending Administration in David Eisenbach In addition, his approach avoids the peacetime in all our history.” He prom- Professor of political history, pitfall of trying to explain the mysterious ised to balance the budget with “a stern Columbia University; coauthor, FDR. Historians have trouble with Roo- and unremitting policy of living within “The Kingmakers: How the sevelt for three interrelated reasons: He our income.” He supported the 1932 Dem- Media Threatens Our Security was temperamentally resistant to any ide- ocratic Party platform pledge to slash and Our Democracy” ological commitment; he did not write the budget by 25 per cent and his first much down; and he had no problem si- legislative initiatives were cost-cutting YPE FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT into multaneously holding and advocating measures. His main economic adviser T a keyword search on Amazon.com and 46,000 titles pop up. Most of those contradictory ideas. I think of FDR as the consummate cocktail party host— said that initially Roosevelt was as “fros- tily thrifty” as Calvin Coolidge. But the books try to answer the essential ques- serving martinis, telling stories, listen- author illustrates in great detail that tions: Was the New Deal a revolution or ing affably, always careful never to make the President’s economic views had less a reform? Was FDR a rebel or a shrewd anyone uncomfortable. impact on the ultimate direction of the conservative? Was the New Deal a well That is the way he worked. He wel- New Deal than the views of a few Left- thought-out plan or a bunch of ad hoc comed a constant flow of bureaucrats, of-Center subordinates. improvisations? Adam Cohen’s Nothing Congressmen, businessmen, and local NLIKE FDR, those aides had strong to Fear convincingly argues that FDR was neither a rebel nor a conservative. He pols, each brimming with ideas and re- quests. If the guests failed to grab his U ideological commitments and, equal- ly as important for the historian, paper was a pragmatic improviser whose New attention the
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