Traitor to His Class : The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

by H. W. Brands

Hardcover, 2008




New York : Doubleday, 2008.


A sweeping biography of the life and political career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt draws on archival materials, public speeches, interviews with family and colleagues, and personal correspondence to examine FDR's political leadership in a dark time of Depression and war, his championship of the poor, his revolutionary New Deal legislation, and his legacy for the future.

Media reviews

H.W. Brands, writes with an ease not common among academic historians...Brands revisits all the familiar material with a storyteller’s touch, making Traitor to His Class a good beginner’s book for readers seeking a fuller sense of FDR’s life and times than the entertainment media can provide. He also conveys a sense of the Roosevelt political genius at work.

User reviews

LibraryThing member spencermamer
I mean this with no exaggeration: H.W. Brands's "Traitor to His Class" is incredibly well-written, well-researched, and addictively engaging. One of the best biographies I've ever read of anyone.
LibraryThing member jmcilree
Misleading title since this is a very complimentary bio of FDR. The thing that strikes me most about FDR and the New Deal is how unsuccesful and counter-productive his poliices were. Even worse, a valid arugment can be made that his polcieis made the Depression longer and more severe. But his greatness was in preparing the US for war with Germany and Japan and guiding the country through WWII. Well worth the read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Janientrelac
Very interesting, well written but very little about the theme as stated in the title, did the author decide on the title first and then find out that there really wasn't the information. FDR didn't explain himself much.
LibraryThing member AntT
I grew up around grandparents on one side who worshipped Roosevelt. Those on the other side thought him a traitor to his class. I had to read the book, and I enjoyed it. Well conceived and written.
LibraryThing member santhony
I was given this audiobook as a gift and found it to be a good, though perhaps overly brief overview of the life of one of our most controversial and celebrated Presidents. I suspect that my version (10 1/2 hours) is an abridged version, though I do not see that printed on the CD container. The book is perhaps more detailed.

My great grandfather, an entrepreneur from the early 20th century despised Roosevelt more than the devil. The New Deal, support of organized labor, the income tax, socialism, all went against everything he believed in. He was convinced that World War II saved Roosevelt from defeat in the 1940 election and a lasting and deserved reputation as an abject failure as President. Nevertheless, World War II did in fact lift the country out of the Great Depression, and lifted Roosevelt into the pantheon of our most celebrated Presidents.

This book is a fair and balanced treatemnt of Roosevelt's life. It is not a hagiography and gives the failures as well as the successes of Roosevelt's life and Presidency.
… (more)
LibraryThing member bruchu
Comprehensive Biography of FDR

At 800 plus pages, H.W. Brands's new book "Traitor To His Class" is certainly an exhaustive biography of one of the most influential presidents in American history in Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Having read extensively on FDR, the Great Depression, and World War II, I have to say that I was personally a little disappointed in that there was little in Brands's new book that I did not already know. Still, this is a sweeping look at a crucial point in the trajectory of America's pre-eminent and emerging superpower status. Brands's is not just an academic and this book shows off his story-telling skills -- an intellectual who proves he can also be interesting and relevant.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable, if slightly left-wing liberal leaning look at the life of FDR. Definitely recommend for anyone who has an interest in twentieth-century history or history of the United States.
… (more)
LibraryThing member michaelbartley
A very nice one vol. biography of FDR, it shows the man, the people around him and a good overview of the times. I recommend it for anyone that wants to know who FDR was and what he did
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
5615. Traitor to His Class The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by H. W. Brands (read 11 Mar 2019) This is the sixth book by H. W. Brands I have read. It was published in 2005 and thus is newer than other FDR biographies I have read, such as the two volumes by Geoffrey Ward (which I read 15 Oct 1993 and 12 Sep 1995), Conrad Black's biography of FDR (which I read 4 Apr 2004) James McGregor Burns' 2 volume biography (which I read in May 2006) and Jean Edward Smith's biography (read 8 Aug 2009). I found reading this consistently good reading. It is pleasingly chronological which is always a feature I enjoy in a biography. Both the accounts of the New Deal years and of the war years are done with just the right amount of detail. Brands' approval of FDR is not slavish and he points out the flaws but overall his recital of the events is fair and in accord with what is true. The account of his death is poignant and took me back to that time, which I remember so vividly.… (more)
LibraryThing member neobardling
Brands' biography of FDR is written in such a manner, that he intertwines the narrative of FDR's life, with natinoal and world events. Brands' approach weaves a narrative to where he argues that FDRs actions were influenced by such world and national events--before the 1930s and the Great Depression!
I personally did not see the connection between the title and the narrative itself; but that does not dissuade.… (more)
LibraryThing member twp77
Brand's Traitor to His Class is a highly fact-filled read on the political life of FDR. While the title suggests a more analytical approach, it is in fact a highly narrative one. Brand focuses a great deal on FDR during the New Deal period and less so on the WW2 period. Clearly this period was the one in which FDR was considered a "traitor" to his upper class roots but as Brand correctly shows, once the war began, FDR turned away from labor and towards big business. While this switch from "Dr. New Deal" towards "Dr. Win the War" was certainly an important part of FDR's approach, it seems evident that he was getting ready to turn once again towards the working class and the poor with his "Second Bill of Rights" proposals near the end of both his life and WW2.

As with most biographies of FDR, he comes across as a brilliant politician who was able to navigate a wide variety of interests with a contradictory combination of charm and brutal political shrewdness. FDR was an idealist only to a degree, using the Constitution when it suited him and discarding it when it did not - as evidenced in both the attempted packing of the Supreme Court and the later internment of Japanese Americans. He had a way of maintaining a balance between different individuals to allow the best outcome to come forth. While this way of working often drove his contemporary subordinates to distraction in domestic affairs, the book highlights this trait as an indispensable asset on the international stage. It is clear that a man with a different political style could have had a negative impact on international relations for years to come. As it was, and in spite of the Cold War, one finishes reading Brand's work being grateful to have had a person with FDR's temperament leading the United States during such a tumultuous and unpredictable time, despite his numerous contradictions and faults.
… (more)
LibraryThing member AntT
I grew up around grandparents on one side who worshipped Roosevelt. Those on the other side thought him a traitor to his class. I had to read the book, and I enjoyed it. Well conceived and written.



Page: 0.6343 seconds