Youngs, J. W. T.

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life (1985)

Little, Brown and Company, 246 pages, $ 15.95 hardcover

ISBN 0-316-97713-6

In this biography J. William T. Youngs traces the development of Eleanor Roosevelt from her childhood in a privileged but dysfunctional family through her adulthood as a wife and mother, her role as the wife of a rising politician and as the nation’s First Lady, and finally her desire to reconcile woman’s traditional domestic role with her emerging political and social consciousness. Youngs relies heavily on Eleanor Roosevelt’s own writings to illustrate her life.

There are, of course, many books about Eleanor Roosevelt herself and about both Eleanor and Franklin that give more detailed coverage than Youngs’s single volume does. But this book is adequate for someone looking for an introduction to one of the twentieth century’s most influential women:

After Eleanor's death the extraordinary character of her life became all the more apparent. Not only was she one of the most influential people—man or woman—of the twentieth century, she also possessed a remarkable ability to “walk with kings and keep the common touch”… Eleanor Roosevelt's life was rich in the bonds of friendship and love. But only a few intimates realized that her sense of kinship was created by a continuing struggle against despair. Sensitive as she was to moments of communion with other human beings, Eleanor was equally sensitive to the distances between one human being and another. (pp. 226-227)

© 1999 by Mary Daniels Brown

All material on these pages is © as indicated by Mary Daniels Brown