D.A. Ball
July 08, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Who elected her?” was asked first about Eleanor Roosevelt, who was no less controversial than Hillary Rodham Clinton, and who was a major force for much of the six-decade Roosevelt political dynasty. In The Roosevelts: An American Saga, to show us Presidents Teddy and Franklin (as well as First Lady Eleanor) as they shaped 20th-century life and politics, Peter Collier relates the machinations of their public politics to the agony of the private battles, jealousies, and tragedies that never left America’s near-royal family alone. He spices every page with tidbits that make the book a pleasure instead of a history lesson: Teddy believed telephones to be such a ”barbarous invention” that he threw his out; Teddy Jr.’s wife Eleanor fires a cook for chopping parsley with his teeth. Collier’s meticulous research and lucid reporting illuminate what the Roosevelts did, who they were, and what they helped all America to become. A

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