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FDR

Sacred and Complex, Amy Bloom’s ‘White Houses’ Chronicles First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s Secret Affair

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One of the highlights of my year, thus far, was interviewing bestselling author, Amy Bloom about her new book, White Houses. Released in time for Valentine’s Day (February 13, Penguin Random House) with rave reviews from the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, White Houses is a love story about a complex affair steeped in our history between a First Lady and a woman— a journalist— that spanned more than three decades. Bloom’s novel is based on the real-life love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena “Hick” Hickok. This story about to women in love is wrought with obvious challenges given the times— when same-sex relationships and extramarital affairs were taboo.  Add substantial class differences between the women and therein lies a story…

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Karen Chase recounts her battle with polio and FDR as a figure of hope

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As the country watches Ken Burns’ latest documentary opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, unfold on television, we’ll be given another look at what some have called FDR’s “grand deception”—his campaign to hide the fact that throughout his presidency, he was, due to polio, unable to walk. Apprehensive as to how his public image would suffer if he was seen as disabled, Roosevelt’s family, his aides, and even the media worked together to downplay and conceal the severity of his impairment. Roosevelt and his battle against one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th century resonate throughout Polio Boulevard (Excelsior Editions, 2014), a touching memoir written by poet Karen Chase. Chase contracted polio as a 10-year-old in 1953—ironically, at…

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