Experience the timeless wit and wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt in this annotated collection of candid advice columns that she wrote for more than twenty years.
In 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt embarked on a new career as an advice columnist. She had already transformed the role of first lady with her regular press conferences, her activism on behalf of women, minorities, and youth, her lecture tours, and her syndicated newspaper column. When Ladies Home Journal offered her an advice column, she embraced it as yet another way for her to connect with the public. “If You Ask Me” quickly became a lifeline for Americans of all ages.
Over the twenty years that Eleanor wrote her advice column, no question was too trivial and no topic was out of bounds. Practical, warm-hearted, and often witty, Eleanor’s answers were so forthright her editors included a disclaimer that her views were not necessarily those of the magazines or the Roosevelt administration. Asked, for example, if she had any Republican friends, she replied, “I hope so.” Queried about whether or when she would retire, she said, “I never plan ahead.” As for the suggestion that federal or state governments build public bomb shelters, she considered the idea “nonsense.” Covering a wide variety of topics—everything from war, peace, and politics to love, marriage, religion, and popular culture—these columns reveal Eleanor Roosevelt’s warmth, humanity, and timeless relevance.
Eleanor Roosevelt, among her many public roles, wrote an advice column called "If You Ask Me" for more than two decades, starting in 1941, first for the Ladies Home Journal and then for McCall's. In this collection, Binker, consulting editor for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, organizes Roosevelt's thoughtful answers by topic, including "Women and Gender," "Race and Ethnicity," "Civil Liberties," and "War and Peace." Roosevelt emerges as blunt and opinionated, but also open, compassionate, and genuinely interested in others. Readers will learn, among other things, that she occasionally gave money to panhandlers, felt the House Un-American Activities Committee was ruining the U.S.'s reputation abroad, and believed that work was the best antidote to depression. Asked in 1950 what she thought accounted for the failure of so many Americans to vote, she replied it came from the misguided idea that democracy is self-sustaining, adding that children should be taught that "our duties as citizens in a democracy come before any other duties." When a sixth grader wrote in asking how to make the world more peaceful, Roosevelt advised the child to "learn to live harmoniously with people of your own age even though they might be of different races and different religions." Quotable and surprisingly timely, this optimistic book is both bracing and comforting.