My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence Between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin

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Yale University Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 361 pages
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Thomas Eakins was misunderstood in life, his brilliant work earned little acclaim, and hidden demons tortured and drove him. Yet, the portraits he painted more than a century ago captivate us today, and he is now widely acclaimed as the finest portrait painter our nation has ever produced. This book recounts the artist's life in fascinating detail, drawing on a treasure trove of Eakins' family correspondence and papers that have only recently been discovered. Never before has Thomas Eakins' story been told with such drama, clarity, and accuracy. Sidney Kirkpatrick sets the painter's life and art in the wider context of the changing world he devoted himself to portraying, and he also addresses the artist's private life - the contradictory impulses, obsessions, and possible psychological illness that fired his work. Kirkpatrick underscores Eakins's unflinching integrity as an artist and discloses how his profound appreciation of the beauty of the human form was both the source of his greatness and ultimately of his undoing. Nevertheless, the author observes, Eakins has had his 'revenge', inspiring a new generation of realist painters and gaining the recognition that eluded him in life.

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About the author (2005)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New York and attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. He followed the example of his fifth cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired, and entered public service through politics, as a Democrat. He won election to the New York Senate in 1910 and President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1920. In the summer of 1921, when he was 39, Roosevelt was stricken with poliomyelitis. He fought to regain the use of his legs, particularly through swimming. At the 1924 Democratic Convention, he appeared on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith as "the Happy Warrior." In 1928, Roosevelt became Governor of New York, and was elected President in November 1932, to the first of four terms. In his first "hundred days" in office, he proposed, and Congress enacted, a program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in danger of losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority. By 1935 the Nation had somewhat recovered, but businessmen and bankers were turning more and more against Roosevelt's New Deal program. They were appalled because he had taken the Nation off the gold standard and allowed deficits in the budget, and disliked the concessions to labor. Roosevelt responded with a new program of reform: Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed. In 1936 he was re-elected by a large margin. Feeling he was armed with popular support, he sought legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had been invalidating key New Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle, but a revolution in constitutional law took place. Thereafter the Government could legally regulate the economy. Roosevelt had pledged the United States to the "good neighbor" policy. He also sought, through neutrality legislation, to keep the United States out of the war in Europe, yet at the same time to strengthen nations threatened or attacked. When France fell and England came under siege in 1940, he sent Great Britain all possible aid, short of actual military involvement. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation's manpower and resources for global war. Roosevelt felt that the future peace of the world would depend upon relations between the United States and Russia, and he devoted much thought to the planning of a United Nations, in which international difficulties could be settled. As the war drew to a close, Roosevelt's health deteriorated, and on April 12, 1945, while in Warm Springs, Georgia, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Born Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili to humble parents in Gori, Georgia, Joseph Stalin first became interested in Marxism while he was studying for the priesthood. Those studies ended abruptly with his expulsion for revolutionary activities aimed at the overthrow of the tsar. After various periods of arrest and escape or imprisonment, he became a follower of Lenin. Between 1903 and 1913, he wrote revolutionary material. Around 1913 he took the name Stalin, "man of steel." An editor of the embryo Communist paper Pravda, in 1917 he took charge of the newspaper and began his rise to power in the Communist party, eventually becoming the leading member of the triumvirate that ruled the U.S.S.R. after Lenin's death. During the period of his dictatorship, which followed, many of his former comrades perished in purges he initiated. During World War II, after Nazi Germany broke the mutual nonaggression agreement it had signed with Russia, Stalin joined the Allies. During and after the Allied victory he met with the other Allied leaders---Churchill, Roosevelt, and Truman---at the Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences. His postwar takeover of the countries of eastern Europe helped launch the cold war. At his death, Stalin received the funeral of a state hero and was buried next to Lenin in Moscow's Red Square. In 1961, after Nikita Khrushchev had denounced him and his policies, his body was moved to the cemetery for heroes near the Kremlin Wall. In March 1969, about two years after Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva caused a sensation when she abandoned the U.S.S.R. and her family to seek haven in the United States, Pravda began issuing excerpts from the new novel They Fought for Their Country by Mikhail Sholokhov, which imply that Stalin was unaware of the activities of his secret police in pursuing the purges of the 1930s. Svetlana also produced a work on her father---Twenty Letters to a Friend: A Memoir. In it she cast new light on Stalin's private life and her mother's suicide. She refrains from expressing active hostility to her father and believes that he was to some extent deceived by Beria, chief of his secret police. Of the many biographical studies of Stalin, however, one of the most fascinating is that by Leon Trotsky. In the introduction to the 1967 edition, Bertram D. Wolfe writes: "In all literature there is no more dramatic relationship between author and subject. . . . It is like Robespierre doing a life of Fouche, Kurbsky of Ivan the Terrible, Muenzer of Martin Luther.

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