Review of “Traitor to His Class” by H.W. Brands

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” is H.W. Brands’s 2008 biography of FDR and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Brands is a professor at the University of Texas and the author of more than two dozen books (including six presidential biographies). His most recent biography “Reagan: The Life” was published in 2015.

This lengthy single-volume biography of FDR is detailed, comprehensive and magisterial. It is organized into three major sections and its 824 pages leave no major aspect of Roosevelt’s life unexplored – but it focuses on the various phases of his life with different levels of intensity.

Coverage of Roosevelt’s early years and pre-presidency is solid (but not exceptional) and Brands provides more background on FDR’s retreat at Warm Springs than I’ve encountered elsewhere. His two-term gubernatorial career, however, is surprisingly under-covered.  Discussion of President…

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