• Becoming FDR

  • The Personal Crisis That Made a President
  • By: Jonathan Darman
  • Narrated by: Will Damron
  • Length: 12 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (41 ratings)

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Becoming FDR

By: Jonathan Darman
Narrated by: Will Damron
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Publisher's Summary

“An illuminating account of how Franklin D. Roosevelt’s struggles with polio steeled him for the great struggles of the Depression and of World War II.”—Jon Meacham

“A valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face.”—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci 

In popular memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential political “natural.” Born in 1882 to a wealthy, influential family and blessed with an abundance of charm and charisma, he seemed destined for high office. Yet for all his gifts, the young Roosevelt nonetheless lacked depth, empathy, and an ability to think strategically. Those qualities, so essential to his success as president, were skills he acquired during his seven-year journey through illness and recovery. 

Becoming FDR traces the riveting story of the struggle that forged Roosevelt’s character and political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921 at the age of thirty-nine, the former failed vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down. He spent much of the next decade trying to rehabilitate his body and adapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage in 1928 as the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become compassionate and shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to inspire listeners and to reach them through a new medium—radio. Suffering cemented his bond with those he once famously called “the forgotten man.” Most crucially, he had discovered how to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation—a skill that he employed to motivate Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The polio years were transformative, too, for the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor, and for Eleanor herself, who became, at first reluctantly, her husband's surrogate at public events, and who grew to become a political and humanitarian force in her own right.

Tracing the physical, political, and personal evolution of the iconic president, Becoming FDR shows how adversity can lead to greatness, and to the power to remake the world.

©2022 Jonathan Darman (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“This fascinating story of how FDR was forged by polio is a moving personal drama. More than that, it’s a valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face.”—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci

“At a time when suffering and resilience have taken on new meaning for us all, Jonathan Darman offers us a compelling and compassionate portrait of a man who did extraordinary things because he came to understand both.”—Drew Gilpin Faust, bestselling author of This Republic of Suffering 

“Franklin D. Roosevelt has been a strangely elusive figure to biographers, but he comes vividly to life in Jonathan Darman’s moving and insightful portrait. A gifted historian and writer, Darman has given us a parable of redemption through suffering, a sensitive portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating study of the acquisition of power. This is the gripping story of how a lightweight playboy became a great world leader.”—Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor 

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Fantastic book with great narration.

As a quadriplegic from polio in 1940, I really resonated with this. So much of his struggle, determination. faith and hope, along with a need for our dignity, are present in my life as well as other polios. Now, in our elder years, we are dealing with post-polio syndrome, where the muscles we used the most during our active lives are no longer functioning. The narration was superb.

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Outstanding insight

I thought the author did a masterful job of developing the thesis that FDR’s experience with polio had a positively transformative impact upon him and conveyed it with clarity and a compelling quality to the writing. The book was filled with support of informative information and personalized so much of what he talked about with regard to FDR. I highly recommend this book.

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Great book.

Loved it. Insightful story of his "disability" and how he managed it and became a better person
is inspiring. Narration was perfection.