FDR as never seen before: His formative years as Woodrow Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy, evolving from political neophyte to visionary leader
This is the story of a very different Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the one usually found in the history books. This is a much younger, untested FDR, a physically active, pre-polio FDR, as seen during his early years in Washington, learning the complexities of gaining and exercising power as Woodrow Wilson’s ambitious Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He arrives in Washington as a somewhat shallow, inexperienced political neophyte possessed of little more than a famous name, but by the time he leaves the Navy eight years later he will have transformed himself into a seasoned professional, wise to the ways of power, a visionary ready and eager to take his place on the world stage.
FDR’s early years in Washington also include the most tumultuous period in his personal life, when, caught in a difficult marriage, he is forced to choose between his own personal happiness and his towering political ambitions. He must deal at close quarters with Congress, with the Administration, with the military, with big business. Lastly, but crucially, he confronts himself, learning something about his potential, his limitations, and his ambition. Such self-knowledge is perhaps the most valuable single gift that a leader of a democracy can hope for.