Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book reviews: Eleanor Roosevelt, and Bog Bodies Uncovered

Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. 2: 1933-1938, by Blanche Wiesen Cook

What a fantastic ride this biography is, seeing the world through the eyes of ER, born in 1884 into one of the oldest New York families, niece of the President of the United States, but also daughter of an alcoholic, and orphaned by age 10.

Always insecure because of her childhood, she rose to be one of the world's most beloved and respected women, surviving almost unbelievable challenges along the way. Because of her class and mores of the time, she was able to help her husband and distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt become a New York State legislator, Governor, and US President all while he battled the after-affects of polio, even as she recovered from his betrayal of her with Lucy Mercer.

She went on to build a life of her own in parallel to his, both holding "courts" of power, both having other lovers and deeply intimate friendships while supporting one another in their pursuits of what was best for the United States and the world as another world war loomed.

It is hard for me to believe after about ER's accomplishments, that we as a culture are still evidently not willing to give women direct power when they are qualified and willing to take on the difficult job of governing the US. I hope I'm wrong in my gloomy assessment of the US cultural landscape.

Now that part three of this biography has been published, I have it on hold at my local library.


Bog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe's Ancient Mystery by Miranda Aldhouse-Green

I borrowed this from a friend (thanks, Christine!) after I became absorbed in it up at our cabin in the mountains. The drawings and photos are great, and the analysis is good, if a bit speculative. I see that Nova has a documentary on the bodies; I'll try to check that out. Slim book, well worth the time. We can learn so much from these ancient mummies.