The Man He Became

The Man He Became

How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency

By James Tobin

Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780743265157, 370pp.

Publication Date: November 12, 2013


With a searching new analysis of primary sources, NBCC award winner James Tobin reveals how FDR’s fight against polio transformed him from a callow aristocrat into the energetic, determined statesman who would rally the nation in the Great Depression and lead it through World War II.

When polio paralyzed Franklin Roosevelt at thirty-nine, people wept to think that the young man of golden promise must live out his days as a helpless invalid. He never again walked on his own. But in just over a decade, he had regained his strength and seized the presidency.

This was the most remarkable comeback in the history of American politics. And, as author James Tobin shows, it was the pivot of Roosevelt’s life—the triumphant struggle that tempered and revealed his true character. With enormous ambition, canny resourcefulness, and sheer grit, FDR willed himself back into contention and turned personal disaster to his political advantage. Tobin’s dramatic account of Roosevelt’s ordeal and victory offers central insights into the forging of one of our greatest presidents.

About the Author
Ron Powers

Co-author of "Flags of Our Fathers "

What The Metaphysical Club was to the development of philosophic thought in America, this beautiful book is to the development of man in flight. Far more than a mere account of the Wright brothers' triumph, "To Conquer the Air" is a yeasty, richly drawn evocation of an era and of the strange, visionary, obsessed, and difficult men who battled one another to claim it in their name.

Monday, Nov 25, 2013

In The Man He Became, historian James Tobin says, despite misimpressions to the contrary, Americans of Franklin Roosevelt's day were well-aware of his disability � it was an important part of the personal narrative that helped him win the presidency. More at

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.