The scope of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency offers a considerable challenge for any prospective biographer. The twelve years of his presidency encompassed two of the most momentous events in American history, and his approach to each could (and has) merited important studies in and of themselves. Added to the challenge is the opaque nature of Roosevelt's inner self, which often left him inscrutable even to those who were closest to him, yet must be addressed by biographer in any serious effort to understand him. Many writers who have made such an effort have produced multi-volume works that are often left incomplete, and even single-volume biographies are often massive in size.
Yet in spite of this, Patrick Renshaw manages to pull off the impressive feat of providing a concise yet insightful assessment of Roosevelt’s life and career. In accordance with the “Profiles in Power” series, his focus is on how Roosevelt used power as president, yet his scope encompasses the whole of FDR’s life, including such topics as his complicated relationship with his wife Eleanor, the personal impact of his polio affliction, and his affairs with other women. All are addressed within the context of Renshaw’s theme, yet it is done in such a way as to provide a better understanding of who Roosevelt was as a person. Because of this, his book serves not just as a good study of FDR’s use of power but as the best short biography of Roosevelt available, one that is ideal for anyone seeking a concise introduction to the life and career of America’s 32nd president.