The Next Nationalism
Serve to Lead® | James Strock
Jonathan Darman | 'Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis That Made a President'

Jonathan Darman | 'Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis That Made a President'

Serve to Lead Podcast

Amid the uncertainty and sense of lack of leadership in American politics and government, and other sectors, there’s a burst of interest in one of our most consequential presidents: Franklin Roosevelt.

In this episode of the Serve to Lead podcast, award-winning presidential historian and journalist Jonathan Darman discusses his highly readable and extensively researched new book, Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis That Made a President.

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Critical Acclaim

“With superb insight into human nature, Jonathan Darman has written a compelling and illuminating account of how a battle with a virus shaped the life of the man to whom the fate of everything would fall. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s struggles with polio steeled him for the great struggles of the Depression and of World War II, and Darman tells that story in vivid and convincing detail.”

—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship
“A brilliant, fresh, and vivid book that shows us how a well-meaning and ambitious gentleman turned into the world figure who led Americans to conquer the Great Depression and fight to victory in global war . . . Jonathan Darman brings us new insights into FDR (a difficult job at this late date) at the same time as he shows us how a leader is made.”

—Michael Beschloss, presidential historian

“This fascinating story of how Franklin D. Roosevelt was forged by polio is a moving personal drama. More than that, it’s a valuable book for anyone who wants to know how adversity shapes character. By understanding how FDR became a deeper and more empathetic person, we can nurture those traits in ourselves and learn from the challenges we all face.”

—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci

“Franklin D. Roosevelt has been a strangely elusive figure to biographers, but he comes vividly to life in Jonathan Darman’s moving and insightful portrait. A gifted historian and writer, Darman has given us a parable of redemption through suffering, a sensitive portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating study of the acquisition of power. This is the gripping story of how a lightweight playboy became a great world leader.”

—Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor

“This moving portrait of Franklin Roosevelt’s rise to power gives us new insights on his inner life. Jonathan Darman writes with grace, ease, and a keen eye for human detail as he tells the story of FDR in his crucible years. It’s about the making of the man before the presidency, before his greatness, and what he had to do and face before he could become who he really was.”

—Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal

“At a time when suffering and resilience have taken on new meaning for us all, Jonathan Darman offers us a compelling and compassionate portrait of a man who did extraordinary things because he came to understand both.”

—Drew Gilpin Faust, bestselling author of This Republic of Suffering

About the Author

Jonathan Darman is a journalist and historian who writes about American politics and the presidency. He is the author of Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis that Made a President. His book Landslide: Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America told the story of a thousand transformative days in the 1960s through the eyes of two iconic American presidents.

As a former national political correspondent for Newsweek, Jonathan covered the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Mitt Romney and wrote extensively about other major figures in national politics and media. He covered the 2004 presidential campaign for the magazine’s special election project, which garnered the National Magazine Award for Single Topic Issue. Jonathan has also appeared frequently as a commentator on politics and presidential history on broadcast television, cable news and public radio.

Jonathan is a graduate of Harvard College where he studied American history and literature. He lives in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley.

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The Next Nationalism
Serve to Lead® | James Strock
The Serve to Lead podcast focuses on today’s extraordinary leadership opportunities in business, government, and politics. In a time of intense polarization, this includes advancing our shared American identity and narrative. James Strock is an independent writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and reformer. Strock writes ‘The Next Nationalism’ at Substack.