There is a great debate among historians about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's actions during the Holocaust. Was FDR the hero that defeated the Germans, or did he turn a blind eye to the plight of the Jews as long as he possibly could? In Roosevelt and the Holocaust, Robert Beir analyzes specific actions and legislation to get at the truth behind Roosevelt's role in the Holocaust. Beir has a unique perspective. He is a Jew who was raised during the extreme anti-Semitism of the Great Depression. Having witnessed the fruits of the New Deal firsthand, Beir became a Roosevelt scholar. It wasn't until later in life, when confronted by a student about Roosevelt's role in the Holocaust, that Beir began to research this topic intensely. Beir ultimately concludes that Roosevelt acted not out of anti-Semitism, nor out of moral outrage over the plight of the Jews. Rather he acted in the way he felt was best to navigate the United States and the world through this tumultuous time.
Steven Cooper's eloquent, authoritative reading of Robert Beir's book suits the gravity of the subject matter at hand: the role the FDR administration played in the Holocaust and whether or not it could have done more to prevent the slaughter of millions.
Books about such sensitive and weighty topics can easily come off as heavy-handed or ponderous, but Cooper's lively and skillful delivery makes this an engrossing listen from beginning to end.
Though not everyone may agree with his conclusions, Beir's thoroughly researched, thought-provoking work should be required listening for anyone with even a fleeting interest in WWII history.
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