Book review: 'The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great'

Harvey J. Kaye champions President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s social programs.
Oklahoman Published: July 20, 2014
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“The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great” by Harvey J. Kaye (Simon & Schuster, 292 pages, in stores)

Harvey J. Kaye gives us a marvelous history lesson — and sometimes a scolding — in this account of a nation’s progress during some of its most dangerous years.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s articulation of the Four Freedoms — freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear — came in early 1941, the eve of World War II. However, they had been part of the Democratic president’s philosophy since taking office in 1933 in the worst days of the Great Depression.

FDR seemed to believe, as war approached, that the nation needed a clear and concise view of the specific goals he envisioned for the country. That is what Kaye, a University of Wisconsin professor of democracy and justice studies, writes about with purpose and passion. He earlier wrote an important work on Thomas Paine.

Writing about FDR’s desire to make life more secure for older Americans, Kaye describes the struggle to get approval for the Social Security Act. Many powerful citizens felt government should do little except defend the shores of our country.

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