Jean Edward Smith

Jean Edward Smith is the author of twelve books, including highly acclaimed biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall, General Lucius D. Clay, and Ulysses S. Grant (a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist). A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Smith taught at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years before joining the faculty at Marshall University where he was the John Marshall Professor of Political Science.

Links of Interest

John Marshall: Definer of a Nation on Google Books
Jean Edward Smith’s books on Google Books


About the book “FDR”

FDR is a comprehensive biography from Roosevelt’s birth in 1882 to his untimely death in Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1945. Jean Edward Smith covers Roosevelt’s privileged upbringing, his wide-ranging intelligence, and the rough world of New York politics at the turn of the century.
He also presents a new appreciation for the affection and assistance that Sara Delano Roosevelt provided her son throughout his life, the remarkable professional partnership between Franklin and his wife Eleanor, the enduring romance with Lucy Mercer Rutherford, and his relationship with long-time secretary Missy Leland.
The events leading up to Pearl Harbor, the wartime conferences with Churchill and Stalin, and the questions of the president’s health are treated with precision and candor. Smith offers a masterful account of Roosevelt as commander in chief while also critiquing some of Roosevelt’s major mistakes, including his attempt to reconstruct the judiciary and the internment of Japanese Americans.
The New Deal, the legislative reforms of the Hundred Days, and the confidence Roosevelt brought the nation are stories that come to life in this thoroughly researched portrait of one of America’s greatest presidents.


Reviews of “FDR”

Publishers Weekly Starred review:
Independent biographer Smith (1996’s John Marshall: Definer of a Nation and 2001’s Grant) crafts a magisterial biography of our most important modern president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Scores of books have been written about Roosevelt, exploring every nook and cranny of his experience, so Smith breaks no “news” and offers no previously undisclosed revelations concerning the man from Hyde Park. But the author’s eloquent synthesis of FDR’s complex and compelling life is remarkably executed and a joy to read. Drawing on the papers of the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library as well as Columbia University’s oral history collection and other repositories, Smith minutely explores the arc of FDR’s intertwined political and private lives. With regard to the political, the biographer seamlessly traces Roosevelt’s evolution from gawky, aristocratic, political newcomer nibbling at the edges of the rough-and-tumble Dutchess County, N.Y., Democratic machine to the consummate though physically crippled political insider–a man without pretensions who acquired and performed the jobs of New York governor and then United States president with shrewd, and always joyous, efficiency. As is appropriate, more than half of Smith’s narrative deals with FDR as president: the four terms (from 1933 until his death in 1945).

“FDR is practically a Cliff Notes bio. This is a terrific one-volume comprehensive look at an extraordinary life.” -USA Today

“Smith’s FDR is a model presidential biography.”
-Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post

Smith “is that rarest and most welcome of historians, one who addresses a serious popular readership without sacrificing high scholarly standards.”
-Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post

“Smith vibrantly captures the complete drama of an American original.”
-Newark Star-Ledger

“Jean Edward Smith is an accomplished biographer, and he lays out in the most charming prose the dynamics of a gifted politician”.
-Michael P. Riccards The Washington Times

“Jean Edward Smith has dug more deeply into the Roosevelt collection of books and documents than all of his predecessors. The result is a picture of the 32nd President richer in detail and explanation than any other work. Even Smith’s footnotes throughout the text, not to mention his 153 pages of endnotes, are instructive and absorbing.”
-Professor Henry F. Graff Columbia University The New Leader

“Smith, in this remarkable, sympathetic biography, doesn’t flinch at Roosevelt’s mistakes….The Roosevelt who emerges here – neither a stranger nor a painted icon – is flawed and magnificent.”
-The New Yorker

“FDR will secure Smith’s standing as today’s foremost biographer of formidable figures in American history.”
-George F. Will

“A magisterial biography…Smith’s eloquent synthesis of FDR’s complex and compelling life is remarkably executed and a joy to read.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This page-turner is the best single-volume biography available of America’s 32nd president.”
-Library Journal

“A rare combination of history and narrative prose.”
-Buffalo News