The first 45 minutes or so of this documentary were mostly concerning the historical facts that are well known – and I was delighted that I knew much of it from chapter 34 in our text! It was amazing to me that I often guessed what the narrator was going to say next, simply because I read the book.
A few points that I was not 100% aware of were:
FDR was elected for a third time, not because the public approved of his past policies, but because he promised to keep the soldier out of the war with Adolph Hitler – a promise his wife Eleanor knew was not realistic, and FDR would later suffer from making that promise.
FDR was elected the first time mainly because he wasn’t the incumbent. This is not to say that he wasn’t qualified, but the public would simply not re-elect a president that “led” them into the depression, even though Hoover claimed that nobody could have prevented it.
More interesting to me was the entire segment about FDR’s polio diagnosis. I either missed it in the text, or the book did not cover this very well. The documentary portrayed FDR’s illness as an integral part of his character – the reason that he connected so well with the downtrodden and the disadvantaged of society. It was also interesting that the press never wrote about or filmed his disability. Something like that would never be respected and ignored in such a way during the 21st century.
I also learned about FDR’s affair with Lucy. When the affair became known, FDR was prevented from divorcing Eleanor by a promise to remove FDR from an estate beneficiary if he did so. This kept the couple together, but gave Eleanor immense control over the relationship – FDR had to basically put up with anything she wanted to do, and in her case, she became even more public, and more liberal. She spoke out about all sorts of touchy issues, especially racial segregation and lynching – a topic FDR would rather have ignored, since he depended on the support of many whom would be offended if he spoke against segregation.
The secret communications between FDR and Europe was interesting as well.
Overall, this documentary was very good. It would have been nice if the show aired a week earlier, before I took the chapter 34 test!