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Media Center: ‘Roosevelts’ by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns

August 27th, 2014

WHO: Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns

WHAT: THE ROOSEVELTS: An Intimate History

WHEN: Published by Knopf September 12, 2014

WHERE: The 7-part PBS series will be broadcast nation-wide.

WHY: “An eye-opening look at a political dynasty.
“Ward opens with the promising assertion that ‘the similarities and not the differences’ between Teddy and FDR are the more interesting avenue of study. Those similarities are qualified but very real. Both bucked the reins of their parties, though the one remained a Republican for most of his political career, and the other redefined Democratic Party politics; both were children of privilege whose sense of noblesse oblige included a fundamental sense of fairness that seems not to characterize the 1 percent of today. Ward chronicles the modest ironies that propelled both to the heights of political power—Franklin, for instance, was first picked to balance a ticket as ‘an easterner with an independent reputation [who] had a good record in wartime Washington and…bore a last name the party hoped would appeal to independent voters.’ Both Teddy and Franklin surpassed all that was expected of them and transcended class to embrace an American-ness for which many readers will be nostalgic.
“Ward’s text is top-flight, as always, but it would be much less so without the superbly curated photographs that Photo of TR and familyaccompany it, documenting such things as bracing hunts in the Rockies, anti-lynching demonstrations in Washington and boats full of teenage soldiers powering toward the beaches of Normandy…
“The very definition of ‘lavishly illustrated’—an oversized volume containing nearly 800 photographs documenting the lives of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and their wives and families. Excellent, as we have come to expect from the team of Ward and Burns.” —KIRKUS, a starred review

“Completely engaging. Without having to overstate any fact or situation, the authors establish that these three distinguished individuals made significant differences in the political and social fabric of the country, such that their footprints remain indelible in U.S. history.” —Brad Hooper, in a starred review by BOOKLIST

“Impressively thorough… Part history, part biography, Ward and Burns strike the perfect balance between information and entertainment.”
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred review

Photo of FDR

From the beginning of the book: Between them, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt would occupy the White House for nineteen of the first forty-five years of the twentieth century, years during which much of the modern world — and the modern state — was created.
They belonged to different parties. They overcame different obstacles. They had different temperaments and styles of leadership. But it was the similarities and not the differences between the two that meant the most to history.
Both were children of privilege who came to see themselves as champions of the workingman — and earned the undying enmity of many of those among whom they’d grown to manhood.
They shared a sense of stewardship of the American land; an unfeigned love for people and politics; and a firm belief that the United States had an important role to play in the wider world.
But both were hugely ambitious, impatient with the drab notion that the mere making of money should be enough to satisfy any man or nation; and each took unabashed delight in the great power of his office to do good. Each displayed unbounded optimism and self-confidence; each refused to surrender to physical limitations that might have destroyed Photo of Eleanorthem; and each had an uncanny ability to rally men and women to his cause.
The two Roosevelts belonged to two branches of an old New York family whose members sometimes viewed the one another with suspicion.
The living link between them was Theodore Roosevelt’s best-loved niece and Franklin’s wife, Eleanor.
She had learned to face fear and master it long before her husband declared that the only thing Americans had to fear was fear itself. Her own character and energy and devotion to principle would make her the most consequential first lady — and one of the most consequential women — in American history.
This is the story of the Roosevelts. No other American family has ever touched so many lives.

Jacket photo

Media Resources:
About the book | About the authors | Download the jacket | Download Ward’s author photo | Download Burns’ author photo | Download the photo of Teddy Roosevelt and his family in the summer of 1903 (Credit: Library of Congress) | Download the photo of FDR campaigning in Atlanta, 1932 (Credit: Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site) | Download the photo of Eleanor Roosevelt in the studio on the night of the attack on Pearl Harbor (Credit: Culver Pictures)

Publicist for this title:
Erinn McGrath | 212-572-2035 | emcgrath@penguinrandomhouse.com