The Roosevelts: An Intimate History


@ Sun, 09/14/2014 - 8:00pm
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary weaves the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.
 
Here’s a breakdown of what the documentary will be focused on each evening:
 
Get Action (1858-1901)
Monday: Get Action (1858-1901)
 
A frail, asthmatic young Theodore Roosevelt transforms himself into a vigorous champion of the strenuous life, loses one great love and finds another, leads men into battle and then rises like a rocket to become the youngest president in American history at 42. Meanwhile, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, brought up as the pampered only child of adoring parents, follows his older cousin’s career with worshipful fascination and begins to think he might one day follow in his footsteps.
 
In the Arena (1901-1910)
Tuesday: In the Arena (1901-1910)
 
Murder brings Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency, but in the seven years that follow, he transforms the office and makes himself perhaps the best-loved of all the men who ever lived in the White House — battling corporate greed and building the Panama Canal, preserving American wilderness, carrying the message of American might around the world. FDR courts and weds Eleanor Roosevelt, the shy orphaned daughter of Theodore’s alcoholic brother, Elliott. Together, they begin a family. Franklin enters a law firm, but when he is offered a chance to run for the New York state senate, he jumps at the chance.
 
The Fire of Life (1910-1919)
Wednesday: The Fire of Life (1910-1919)
 
Theodore Roosevelt leads a Progressive crusade that splits his own party, undertakes a deadly expedition into the South American jungle, campaigns for American entry into World War I — and pays a terrible personal price. Franklin masters wartime Washington as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, while Eleanor finds personal salvation in war work. Her discovery of Franklin’s romance with another woman transforms their marriage into a largely political partnership. TR’s death at 60 is almost universally mourned, but provides Franklin with a golden opportunity.
 
The Storm (1920-1933)
Thursday: The Storm (1920-1933)
 
Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president in 1920 and seems assured of a still brighter future until polio devastates him the following summer. He spends seven years struggling without success to walk again, while Eleanor builds a personal and political life of her own. FDR returns to politics in 1928 and, as governor of New York, acts with such vigor and imagination during the first years of the Great Depression that the Democrats turn to him as their presidential nominee in 1932. He survives an attempted assassination as president-elect and at his inauguration tells his frightened countrymen the only thing they have to fear is “fear itself.”
 
The Rising Road (1933-1939)
Friday: The Rising Road (1933-1939)
 
FDR brings the same optimism and energy to the White House that his cousin Theodore displayed. Aimed at ending the Depression, his sweeping New Deal restores the people’s self-confidence and transforms the relationship between them and their government. Eleanor rejects the traditional role of first lady, becomes her husband’s liberal conscience and a sometimes controversial political force in her own right. As the decade ends, FDR faces two grave questions: whether to run for an unprecedented third term and how to deal with the rise of Hitler.
 
The Common Cause (1939-1944)
Saturday: The Common Cause (1939-1944)
 
FDR shatters the third-term tradition, struggles to prepare a reluctant country to enter World War II and, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, helps set the course toward Allied victory. Meanwhile, Eleanor struggles to keep New Deal reforms alive in wartime and travels the Pacific to comfort wounded servicemen. Diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 1943 and with the war still raging, FDR resolves to conceal his condition and run for a fourth term.
 
A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962)
Sunday: A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962)
 
Frail and failing but determined to see the war through to victory, FDR wins re-election and begins planning for a peaceful postwar world, but a cerebral hemorrhage kills him at 63. After her husband’s death, Eleanor Roosevelt proves herself a shrewd politician and a skilled negotiator in her own right, as well as a champion of civil rights, civil liberties and the United Nations. When she dies in 1962, she is mourned everywhere as the First Lady of the World.

 

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