Franklin D. Roosevelt is remembered as one of America's greatest presidents, a leader who guided us through depression and war. Yet for the period prior to World War II, we rarely think of him in a global context, active as an extraordinary international figure during the crisis years that destroyed the old order and catalyzed the changes that created the world we still inhabit. Truly, it was a time of struggle for the survival of democracy.
In For the Survival of Democracy, master historian Alonzo Hamby offers a gripping and revisionist comparative history of this turbulent era, allowing Roosevelt to be viewed in comparison with Stanley Baldwin in Britain, Adolf Hitler in Germany, and a host of supporting yet crucial players. Combining deft character sketches with surprising interpretations of world leaders, Hamby takes us back to a time when nationalism seized the West, when Hitler cloaked his evil in tactical brilliance, and when passive leaders were destined to be swept aside. Franklin Roosevelt emerges as the Depression's most imposing leader. A charismatic personality committed to radical change, a masterful popular communicator, Roosevelt saw no inconsistency between democracy and personal power. Like many great men, he achieved great things but also made great mistakes. Hamby describes in detail his inspiring leadership and the social transformations he wrought, and also examines his failure to achieve economic recovery in the United States long after Germany and Britain accomplished it.
The economic catastrophe of the decade before World War II, coupled with the rise of fascism, contains all the drama and high stakes of a fight for survival, during which FDR proved himself to be an essential warrior. In America, in no small part thanks to Franklin Roosevelt, democracy survived to fight another day, and to prevail. Never before has the decade prior to the war been brought to life so vividly, and never have Franklin Roosevelt's achievements been made so clear.