The Roosevelts: An Intimate History debuts tonight

Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History premieres tonight at 8:00 EST on your local PBS station. It’s a seven episode, 14-hour series that covers the life and times of three Roosevelts — Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor — from 1858 (the year Teddy was born) to 1962 (the year Eleanor died). Tonight’s episode follows the family from 1858 to 1901, the births and childhoods of all three of the main players and the early travails and successes of Teddy Roosevelt through his ascension to the presidency after the death of President William McKinley on September 14th, 1901, 113 years to the day ago.

I loves me some do-rag-era TR, so I’m looking forward to tonight’s show. The next episode is sure to deal with another of my favorite TR stories, the time he got shot in the chest but refused to get treatment until he finished the speech he had been scheduled to give.

A later episode will include the extremely rare footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking on his iron leg braces filmed by Jimmie DeShong, the Washington Senators pitcher who recorded the president with his 8mm home movie camera at the All-Star Game in Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1937.

PBS has made a half-hour preview of the first episode available if you want a sneak peek. There are lots of short clips on the website already, and the full episodes will be uploaded after they air.

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Comment by Joan in NY
2014-09-14 20:46:16

You might want to verify the airing of the additional episodes. My local PBS is showing them every night this week with a Masterpiece Mystery next Sunday.

 
Comment by Greyhawk Grognard
2014-09-14 21:45:25

Reason Magazine was unimpressed with the one-sided presentation of both TR and FDR. I’m still going to watch it, but an unremittingly positive portrayal isn’t really an accurate one.

 
Comment by Hels
2014-09-15 09:34:18

I hope they show F.D Roosevelt as a decent, progressive New Deal politician who really did care about ordinary working families during the Depression. Liberal leaders may have been common in European and British Commonwealth countries, but FDR seemed a rare specimen in the USA.

 
Comment by ryan.bri
2014-09-26 14:31:14

The libertarian magazine Reason/Foundation Damon Root narrative of FDR shows with historical agency he used his political power to order the internment of 70,000 plus innocent Japanese Americans citizens during World War II.
The ex-Dallas Morning News TV critic Ed Bark of Unclebarky.com, brings forth the term “talking heads” for director Ken Burns carefully selected usual historian cronies Geoffrey C. Ward, David McCullough, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. With a counter point of view by Pulitzer Prize winning conservative Fox News journalist George Will whom shows us as president FDR “regarded the Constitution as a nuisance” that shouldn’t and wouldn’t get in his way in Chapter 1, or more historical agency.
David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle in TMZ journalism wrote of the comparison of the Clintons with FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, and her social secretary Lucy Mercer. In getting back to the topic of historical agency under the heading Sense of right Wiegand comments on the Roosevelt’s beliefs of their rightness with FDR followed by Eleanor in regards the internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II.
In a more appropriate publication Variety Brian Lowry also brings up the similarities of the Clintons with FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lucy Mercer.
Closer to home our own Mark Feeney of the Boston Globe also uses the same terminology talking heads in introducing professor of emeritus in history at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill branch William Leuchtenburg “the dean of New Deal historians”, Geoffrey C. Ward, along with David McCullough and George F. Will. Feeney in addressing the lack of early footage of Eleanor’s uncle Feeney offers that it is partly compensated by a newsreel of Eleanor visiting a Japanese internment camp during World War II, her husband FDR work of historical agency.
In the Denver Post review Joanne Ostrow narrative bring up the Holocaust with the viewpoint of FDR historical agency towards indifference of the European Jews persecution that Burns left out in lieu of the Roosevelt’s as “one-percenters” public servants. Ostrow lightly touched base on the Roosevelt’s mental health issues, along with their implied destiny to lead also historical agency during the height of Americans isolationism. More in depth was the introduction of Pulitzer Prize winners Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin the latter an LBJ White House fellow and latter staff member in how there’s among the other historians tone was “overly celebratory” Yet to Burns and script writer Geoffrey Ward credit was a shared view point that they found the Roosevelt’s “irresistible, deeply flawed, inspirational, complicated human beings central to an understanding of the national narrative that we call an American history.”
In addressing the above mentioned reviews when FDR used his power with Executive Order 9066 (not much has changes in 70 plus years) for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II that was an example of historical agency. President Jimmy Carter investigation of the government internment of Japanese Americans, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) titled Personal Justice Denied found interment based on Japanese disloyalty was not justified by military necessity but the byproduct of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” falling square on the shoulders of FDR in his using of historical agency.
Mitchell Geoffrey Bard director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) including its Jewish Virtual Library shows us an alternate viewpoint Burns did not find time for in his 14 hour film using his same crony. In The Abandonment of the Jews, David Wyman quotes Stuart Erdheim stating that Doris Kearns Goodwin said in regards to her opinion of the worthiness of the bombing Auschwitz “if it had saved only one Jew. FDR somehow missed seeing how big an issue it was.” yet another example of historical agency.
For my final notes Cynthia M. Koch director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York also has alternate viewpoints of Burns cronies. First Emmy Awards winner and Oberlin College graduate Geoffrey C. Ward whom has worked with Burns since writing The Civil War television mini-series in 1990, hints on the FDRs complicity in Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory (my German family believes in, not to worry we Americans love our conspiracy theories, look up the statics on the JFK conspiracy theories 50 years after the date) but back to the topic of historical agency Ward states “In my opinion, recent scholars have been correct to convict Roosevelt of playing the crudest kind of politics with the rights of Japanese Americans and wrong to indict him for having ignored the plight of Europe’s Jews.” And for a final well rounded viewpoint William E. Leuchtenburg in addressing FDRs critiques “Whereas he was once denounced for manipulating America into war against the Axis, he is now castigated for not standing up to Hitler soon enough or stoutly enough.”

 
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