BOOK REVIEW: ‘Roosevelt’s Centurions’

In “FDR Goes to War,” the authors recount how the president expanded his executive mandate, how he bypassed congressional budget authority, ballooning the national debt, and how he was particularly ruthless in denying civil liberties to sources of dissent and possible opposition to his policies. They overreach, though, by asserting that the whole war effort was merely a Rooseveltian scheme to enlarge New Deal economic reforms into an unashamed socialist agenda.

In “FDR and the Holocaust,” the president is rightly charged with overruling many of his domestic policy advisers who wanted to open the United States as a refuge to Jewish emigres throughout the 1930s. Unmentioned in this indictment of betrayal is the ambivalence of some of Roosevelt’s closest friends who were Jews — columnist Walter Lippmann, for one — about opening our borders to any significant refugee flow. Of course, given the prevailing public mood, it is worth asking the question: If Roosevelt acted with 21st-century morality in the 1930s, would he likely have achieved a third term in office?

Just ask Charles Lindbergh.

James Srodes’ latest book is “On Dupont Circle: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Progressives Who Shaped Our World” (Counterpoint, 2012).

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