A year later, Martha’s idyllic life ends World War II explodes and the Germans invade Norway. While her husband and father-in-law stay protect the nation, Martha and her children first escape to her native Sweden before traveling to the United States. Taking refuge within the walls of the White house, she start to advocate for her native land. This advocacy could be damaging in two equally important areas: her marriage and the tenuous world politics of the era.
The first episode is absolutely brilliant. Helin is perfectly cast as Martha, who could have easily been a shrinking violet, relying on the men around her. But she is smart, tough, and passionate. I wasn’t sure about the casting of MacLachlan and Sansom Harris (who also played the same role in the Netflix series Hollywood) as FDR and Eleanor. But upon seeing the full scene, the spiritual representations of these giants of American history seem to be so far pretty good.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Atlantic Crossing airs on PBS Sunday night at 9PM.
Some people know from an early age that they are going to change the world. Others simply change their world by being a decent human being and seeing the injustice that is forced on others.
The new Eleanor Roosevelt biography, titled Eleanor, was written by David Michaelis. Published last fall, this is an extensive womb to tomb biography of the late former First Lady. Born in 1884 in New York City to the wealthy and respected Roosevelt family, her childhood was not a happy one. She lost both of her parents and her younger brother by the she was a teenager. As a young woman, she married her fifth cousin and future President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Their marriage not all sunshine and roses. But it became the platform she needed to become one of the greatest social justice warriors of the 20th century. Whether or not she knew it, Eleanor was a proto-feminist while serving as First Lady. Instead of quietly following in the footsteps of her predecessors, she became an activist. While other women were just starting to step out of the traditionally female world, she jumped whole heartedly into the causes she believed in.
This book is a masterpiece. It is gripping, entertaining, and humanizes a giant of American history. I will warn however, that it is far from a short read. But it is completely worth it, taking the reader behind the public image to see real woman behind the myth.
In 2005, this period of FDR’s was dramatized in the TV movie, Warm Springs. Stepping into the fictionalized shoes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon. While FDR is being treated for polio, he is helping to revitalize the spa and inspire the other patients, in addition to trying to keep his marriage afloat.
In American politics and American history, both FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt are giants. In humanizing the main characters, the audience sees another to the late President and First Lady that only a select few during his time in office saw.
I loved this book. Instead of being a boring, collegiate style history book, it is a joy to read. Every woman profiled is brought to life. It is a reminder that all women, regardless of the labels of color, religion, age, class, sexuality or family origins are dealing with the same struggles. It is also a reminder that it sometimes takes one woman and one voice to change the world.
Last week, women in America both cheered and were reminded once more of how far we need to go.
The ultimate glass ceiling was broken when Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination for the Democratic nomination. Somewhere in heaven Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan are cheering.
While I was not persuaded to vote for Bernie Sanders, I admired his gutsy approach to government if he won the election. The reason many Americans (myself included) feel frustrated with the government and the general voting process is that it feels more like a secret smoky backroom deal rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people. He wanted the average Joe or Jane on the street to feel like they truly had a say in how their country was being run. For that, I thank Bernie Sanders and I hope Hillary will take that with her as she battles towards November.
Then the news of the Stanford rape broke and it felt like one step forward, two steps back. The fact that Brock Turner received a much lighter sentence that maximum 14 years in prison is a cold slap in the face that while we have female presidential nominee, women are still thought to be mindless sex objects.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’d like to share a few quotes and videos from some of the trailblazers and fore-mothers who have come before us.
“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand.
“If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Shirley
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”- Jane Austen, Persuasion
“A woman is like a tea bag-you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”-Eleanor Roosevelt
“The greatest feminists have also been the greatest lovers. I’m thinking not only of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, but of Anais Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and of course Sappho. You cannot divide creative juices from human juices. And as long as juicy women are equated with bad women, we will err on the side of being bad.”-Erica Jong, Fear Of Flying
PBS has become a staple of my Sunday night television viewing, thanks to Downton Abbey.
But with the American premiere of Downton Abbey several months away, PBS still keeps rolling out great programming to keep their audience entertained until January.
Tonight, PBS aired the first episode of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. This multi part miniseries follows the lives of former Theodore Roosevelt, his niece Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Using a single narrative as the structure of the documentary, Ken Burns and his team start with the birth of Theodore in the 1850’s and will end with the death of Eleanor in the 1960’s.
It is more than a stiff and predictable documentary. Using pictures, archival footage, newspaper accounts of the day and personal letters and diaries, these three giants of American history are brought back to life. Another stroke of genius was to use notable actors to record the personal writing of the three subjects. Paul Giamatti is the voice of Theodore, Meryl Streep is the voice of Eleanor and Edward Hermann is the voice of Franklin.
I was so enthralled that I thought it was a fictional Shakespearean drama, not a real life story of one of the greatest political families that this country has ever seen. I highly recommend it and I am looking forward to the next chapter tomorrow night.