Becoming FDR tells the story of the years when Roosevelt’s genius was made, when, at the age of 39, his life was turned upside down by polio. The illness that ravaged his body seemed the certain end of his political career. Instead, polio remade FDR, creating the man who would lead his country through the Depression and World War II.
Jonathan Darman is an author and journalist who writes about American politics and history. His new book, Becoming FDR, tells the story of the years of personal struggle that remade Franklin Roosevelt’s character, creating a compassionate and transformational leader. A former political correspondent for Newsweek, Jonathan has written for a variety of national publications and appeared as commentator on broadcast television, cable news and radio.
"With superb insight into human nature, Jonathan Darman has written a compelling and illuminating account of how a battle with a virus shaped the life of the man to whom the fate of everything would fall. Franklin D. Roosevelt's struggles with polio steeled him for the great struggles of the Depression and of World War II, and Darman tells that story in vivid and convincing detail."
— Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America and Franklin & Winston
“This fascinating story of how FDR was forged by polio is a moving personal drama. More than that, it’s a valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face.”
— Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci
“Franklin D. Roosevelt has been a strangely elusive figure to biographers, but he comes vividly to life in Jonathan Darman’s moving and insightful portrait. A gifted historian and writer, Darman has given us a parable of redemption through suffering, a sensitive portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating study of the acquisition of power. This is the gripping story of how a lightweight playboy became a great world leader.”
— Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor
“This moving portrait of Franklin Roosevelt’s rise to power gives us new insights on his inner life. Jonathan Darman writes with grace, ease and a keen eye for human detail as he tells the story of FDR in his crucible years. It’s about the making of the man before the presidency, before his greatness, and what he had to do and face before he could become who he really was.”
— Peggy Noonan, columnist The Wall Street Journal
“At a time when suffering and resilience have taken on new meaning for us all, Jonathan Darman offers us a compelling and compassionate portrait of a man who did extraordinary things because he came to understand both.”
— Drew Gilpin Faust, author of This Republic of Suffering
“Jonathan Darman has brought us a brilliant, fresh and vivid book that shows us how a well-meaning and ambitious Hyde Park gentleman turned into the gigantic world figure who led Americans to conquer the Great Depression and fight to victory in global war. Darman brings us new insights into FDR (a difficult job at this late date) at the same time as it shows us how a leader is made.”
— Michael Beschloss, author of Presidents of War
"Written in elegant, evocative prose... this insightful portrait convincingly grounds Roosevelt’s public achievements in painful private experience. Readers will be riveted."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)