Books in Brief

The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and Peace, by David B. Woolner (New York: Basic Books; 368 pp., $32.00).  The author of this engaging, highly interesting, and extremely well-written book is senior fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian at the Roosevelt Institute, in addition to holding academic professorships at both Marist and Bard College.  His idea to provide the hundred-day end-bracket to Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency was by no means an artificial conceit.  Instead, it has a powerful dramatic reality.  Roosevelt knew he was ill, though not how ill, a fact his doctors withheld from him and his family.  And he could not fail to be aware of his own physical and mental exhaustion, and the strain it was putting upon his faculties.  Roosevelt, in short, knew that he had much to do, and little time in which to do it.  Woolner, drawing upon a number of collections of recently released papers, succeeds admirably in portraying Roosevelt’s concerned state of mind in the last months of his presidency, and of his life, when “with [his] exhaustion came a narrowing of his view of what was important to him, the nation, and the world.”  First, of course, he had a war to win on several fronts, and was faced with the immediate crisis of a German counteroffensive in the Ardennes that caused the Allied forces to retreat 60 miles westward toward the...

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