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Michael Merschel: Michael Merschel edits books coverage for The Dallas Morning News.
I'm going to give my award for best effort in book-selling to H.W. Brands, whose newest title is Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
His engaging presentation to several hundred people filling the First United Methodist Church focused mostly on Eleanor Roosevelt and their marriage. He spoke of their courtship, her self-esteem, his infidelity, what polio did to his own sexual ability, her apparent lack of interest in sex and began to discuss her apparent sexual orientation. And then, as time was running out, he said:
"If I had another 45 minutes or another three hours, I could tell you how it contributes to becoming the great war leader he became." Guess we'll have to read the book.
Afterward, I asked him to recap some remarks he made at the beginning of his speech, about what the recent economic problems had inspired interest in his title. He said, yes, there had been a surge, then explained:
"When I was beginning [to write this book], I thought the odds were that in 2008, Hillary Clinton would win the nomination, and that would be the hook, between the present and the past, between now and the Roosevelt Administration.
"But now, I think this year is looking eerily like 1932. So if it is Obama, as it looks like it's going to be, he would certainly be the model for what the next president ought to try to accomplish. Because the country is ready for some change. And somebody who can capitalize on the moment can really do a lot."
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