BOOKS: Growing Up Roosevelt

A dispiriting look at the disaster-plagued clans of T.R. and F.D.R.

Franklin Roosevelt used to say his most difficult constituency was his own family. "One of the worst things in the world is being the child of a President," he maintained. "It's a terrible life they lead." Eleanor and Franklin's six children ran up a total of 19 marriages; two spouses committed suicide, many more seemed to drink themselves silly. The siblings called it "the body count."

Peter Collier and David Horowitz have made a business of probing the underbellies of grand American families in books about the Kennedys and the Fords. In The Roosevelts: An American Saga (Simon and Schuster; 542...

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