FDR's Grandson Offers Insight into World War II Leaders

--John Kennedy, Director of Museum Education and Public Outreach

On 2 November, Curtis Roosevelt,  the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, lectured on his recent book Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents. During his youth, he either lived in the White House on the third floor or in close orbit around the world of his grandparents. Curtis was often included during meetings or meals and observed national and world leaders as they interacted with the president.

Curtis Roosevelt and Heath Twitchell
During his talk, Mr. Roosevelt gave brief descriptions of many of those leaders: Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall (brilliant but reserved), British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill (viewed as interfering by his military but often came up with good ideas), Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King (extremely influential and had an intimate rapport with FDR), advisor Harry Hopkins (very adaptable, every energetic), and Chief of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy (always kept FDR informed). Roosevelt noted that his grandfather was the ultimate arbiter and a master politician who had the amazing ability to keep multiple personalities and programs engaged.

After the lecture, Mr. Roosevelt answered numerous questions from the audience. Questions ranged from the role of the Navy prior to World War II and then the rise of air power during the war. Other questions sought amplification on the many personalities that were in Washington during the war, including Harold Ickes, Harry Hopkins, and Douglas MacArthur.

The lecture was part of the museum's popular 8 Bells Lecture Series. Please click here for a list of upcoming lectures or visit the museum's facebook page.

Image courtesty of the Naval War College Museum


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