Thursday, October 9, 2014

New DVD and Hardcover Available: Ken Burns' "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History"

If you missed Ken Burns' seven-part PBS series on Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt, we have copies at the Main Library and the Palmer Branch. The companion book is also available.

The 14 hour documentary is fascinating. Rich in content, still photographs, and film clips, the series brings the Roosevelts to life. Some credit for that has to go to Meryl Streep for her narration as Eleanor and Paul Giamatti as Theodore.

Yes, we learn a lot about the Roosevelts' role in American history - the creation of the National Park system and the Panama Canal, the passage of New Deal programs, and the defeat of Hitler - but we also come away knowing  their personalities, relationships, and personal struggles - TR's probable bipolar disorder, Eleanor's unhappy childhood, and FDR's polio among them.

One especially poignant moment occurs when the series' writer Geoffrey Ward chokes up while talking about FDR's struggle with polio. It's not mentioned in the documentary, but Ward had contracted polio as a child.

It's an extraordinary program, and it left me with the question: Where are today's leaders who care about ordinary people and the environment and who can fill us with confidence?

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