40 Days of Book Praise, Day 12

RamonaGravitarFor 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.

Day 12, No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

No ordinary time

I am stretching the boundaries of good books for women with this massive work covering “Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” but it would impossible—for me—to write a list of positive anythings about women and leave out Eleanor Roosevelt. The second very good reason is that this book is the work of author, historian, and political analyst Doris Kearns Goodwin, herself a national treasure.

This ambitious but accessible work of historical nonfiction is as much an account of the machinations of the White House during trying years of war as it is an examination of a complex marriage. One chapter opens with a reporter asking Eleanor how the president thinks. Eleanor’s response was, “The President never thinks. He decides.” It’s a great quip, but imagine being married to that guy. Famous figures come and go. There are amusing anecdotes. Intimacy and distance are equal partners for the President and First Lady, but their mission for the good of the country never wavers. The toll of the war on the country, the weight of leadership of those in power, the weariness of the assistants, helpmates, wives, and friends are portrayed in detail that is sharp and fascinating. Goodwin writes in a steady but touching style that makes complicated meetings and moments seem vital and relevant in their historical context. Its size may be off-putting but it is never ponderous or dull. This book won the Pulitzer Prize and is a must-read for anyone interested in learning how a war and a presidency shaped the United States into modern America.

Why is No Ordinary Time a good read for women? Eleanor Roosevelt. Need I say more?

3 thoughts on “40 Days of Book Praise, Day 12

  1. A perfect combination of a writer and two immensely complicated, larger than life personalities.I recently watched “The Roosevelts” and was awed all over again by what these two people did for their country.


  2. Ramona, I am very pleased that you selected this book.

    I love Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her habits as a writer are worthy of study by anyone who is writing anything.

    She is a historian who sees history as it is played out by people much the way she lives out her passion for baseball. If you catch a glimpse of her at a Red Sox game you will see her recording statistics on her copy of the program scorecard and making notes while she watches and enjoys the game. She has fun, and she is always a recorder of what happens. That is her nature.

    I miss seeing her around campus and town. We only spoke once when I held the door open for her. Her arms were full as one might expect for a person gathering evidence and resources. Why did that make an impression on me? She was nice. Just plain nice. In Boston we have a habit of not seeing others. I had friends my first year, and students in years following, who cried because so many people would walk on by without taking notice. Doris Kearns Goodwin takes notice and says thank you. In a place where the general habit is for others to walk by not wishing to be seen, because they have to think about something else. Without so much as a glance if you open the door they will walk through. I grew up with that. I understand it. I don’t like it, but I get it. I always look for the person who looks up. Professor Goodwin is one of those people.

    Here she is in another role as guest curator “… of THE ART OF BASEBALL, opening April 17 at the Concord Museum, historian and fan Doris Kearns Goodwin.” http://harvardmagazine.com/2015/03/all-in-a-day-take-me-out

    [This is such a long comment I’m afraid I got carried away. That’s how much I adore DKG as an academic and person.]


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