One for the books

FDR Library in Hyde Park hosts Roosevelt Reading Festival this Saturday

by Paul Smart
June 16, 2011 01:19 PM | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Literary traditions can take many forms. Here in the Hudson Valley, they range from Irving’s fantasies to Cooper’s romantic reportage through a host of classics written on retreat to the poetic hauntings of Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elizabeth Bishop. They also include the Muselike years (and effects) of our nation’s longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who serves as the inadvertent centering force of the always-impressive Roosevelt Reading Festival that will be celebrating its eighth annual outing at the Presidential Library and Museum this coming Saturday in Hyde Park.

Highlighting the recently published work of 11 authors and a special afternoon presentation with renowned historians James MacGregor Burns and Michael Beschloss, the whole day’s set of six concurrent sessions is free, and will include question-and-answer sessions and book-signings with the attendant authors. Not only do the participants plan to illuminate the glories of FDR and his legacy as governor, president and a major figure of his times, but also those times, both on a global and local level.

Participating authors will include Bruce Altschuler of Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency; Maurine Beasley of Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady; Mario Dinunzio of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Third American Revolution; Susan Dunn of Roosevelt’s Purge: How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party; J. Todd Moyre of Freedom Flyer: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II; Greg Robinson of A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America; Richard Snow of A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II; Philip Terzian of Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower and the American Century; Douglas Waller of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage; Kenneth Walsh of Family of Freedom: Presidents and African Americans in the White House; and Neil Wynn of The African American Experience during World War II.

James MacGregor Burns, a Pulitzer Prizewinning biographer of FDR, will be joined by his former student at Williams College, presidential historian and NBC News commentator Michael Beschloss in a discussion on Burns’s life and work studying the Roosevelt Era, as well as the relationship between these two prominent American historians.

The idea behind the Roosevelt Reading Festivals stems from the great president’s own literary habits, which resulted in a wide-ranging collection of more than 21,000 books in his private library by the time of his death. Amongst his favorite topics: naval history, nature, ornithology, sea exploration and local history. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, which opened to the public in 1941, was first planned as FDR started running out of room for his books and selling them off at annual sales, and was started as the repository for

his beloved personal library.

This Saturday’s event is free and open to the public. Author book-signings will be conducted throughout the day, and books will be available for purchase in the site’s gift shop and bookstore. A full schedule for the day is posted online at For additional information call (800) 337-8474 or visit

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