#1 Life-Changing Read of 2016 | Eleanor Roosevelt Bio: The Defining Years by Blanche Wiesen Cook

     *First, let me make it quite clear that I have every intention of reviewing this six-year-spanning bio much more comprehensively on Goodreads, and that review will be in the near future. So until then, please excuse this compulsive overview of some quick points as to why this was unequivocally the best novel I read in 2016!

     Before I purchased this for three dollars at HPB, I couldn't locate the first volume with which to start off my extension of knowledge and understanding of the inspiring First Lady's legacy after watching the PBS special, and immediately developing a deep admiration for the wonderful historical character that is Eleanor Roosevelt. So I thought to myself that since Cook is a highly praised historian, it would do me well to just dive into reading the second volume, perhaps to go to the first one at a later time.

The Detail is Immense

Upon finishing the 700-something-odd pages of this volume, I found it difficult to comprehend that I had only read about a mere six years of Eleanor's life: what this lady had accomplished during this time was staggering, to say the least! Granted, Cook went into great detail on ER's life in politics, her family and courtships, her dealings with Franklin's involvement in the New Deal, her successes in women's rights and other avenues for activism. She always helped people to find dignity, even when they were seemingly in the most dire of situations. 

Her Legacy

Possibly two things stood out to me the most, of all her personal, adventurous family trips and banters in letters with her best friend and journalist Hick, projects she worked on, the working class she helped, all of which are part of her incredible legacy: one was her perseverance in the Arthurdale homestead project, which was a project of the New Deal under FDR's administration. She really took every challenge and made herself quite a force to be reckoned with. What I've heard about her public service during World War I and her time in the Red Cross is astounding in itself. 

Another point which stood out, was something more generalized that I discovered: her perpetual understanding of the human condition, and her empathetic nature. She was also intolerant of bigotry and she lacked passivity of any form. Myself, along with many others, still wonder of the ultimate reason of why she wasn't her husband's successor, and why she didn't want to be.

Definitely trudged through this one for quite a while in 2016, but I'm delighted to have read all of it! It's definitely life-changing to read about a woman like her. It's well worth the time it took to read, in my opinion (but I'm all about fact-laden historical works of non-fiction, as it is). It inspired me to have the pertinent desire to do more for my community, and I have to realize that whether or not I actually make an action and do just that, is up to myself alone, as it is up to each and every one of us!

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