Robin Gerber's latest novel is a timely and clever read for the political times in which we live. A wonderful
tale for those who love alternate history scenarios, for those who enjoy reading about this volatile time in our
nation's past, and for those who delight in the strength of Eleanor Roosevelt. The time is 1952. WWII is over, yet
another explosive war has begun: the "police action" in Korea. The presidential race promises to be hot and heavy
with Ike on one side, and Adlai Stevenson on the other.
A sudden and very unexpected event thrusts the much-beloved Eleanor Roosevelt into the limelight as the
Democratic candidate for president, against the highly-popular WWII hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower. So perfectly timed
against the backdrop of our own dynamic, historical, precedent setting 2008 election, this book evokes a time when
a woman didn't run for major office and where a man's word was law - provided he was a white man! Fast-paced and
full of tales from behind the scenes, the reader is caught up, not only in the campaigns, but also by the people
behind them. The McCarthy era is beginning, Nixon is starting to make himself known, and, although the press is
not yet as powerful as they are today, there are plenty of hints about candidate peccadilloes.
It is of some concern that, whether current or past, writers seem to feel the need to point out sexual
exploits, and various inappropriate behaviors, of those in office... or running for office. This book is no
exception, dealing with Ike's purported love affair with the Englishwoman Kay Summersby Morgan, and dredging up
rumors about Eleanor's affairs and sexual orientation. Yes, such issues have been part of the political scene,
and always of prurient interest, yet perhaps this book could have stood alone without such additions to the
Eleanor had much to offer the world, and her country, not only during FDR's lifetime, but also in the following
years. The book touches on a brief and charming chance encounter between the candidate, Eleanor, and 5-year-old
Hillary Rodham, as well as others whose lives she affected. The behind-the-scenes views of political maneuvering
and the hyper behaviors of those who want to be close to power are also evocative of our own times. Fascinating
looks at a television debate, mimicking that which occurred years later between Kennedy and Nixon, give the reader
such a logical perspective that we are left wondering why Eleanor didn't run after all! She certainly had
the popularity, the skills and the wherewithal to make a viable run for the presidency. How different things might
have been if she had done so!
Robin Gerber writes this book from a deep understanding of Eleanor Roosevelt, having written about her before,
in a non-fictional leadership guide, using Eleanor's words and perspectives. In addition, the knowledgeable use of
real characters, true events, and wily fictional strategists, brings to Eleanor Vs. Ike a personal,
believable intensity for the reader. Eleanor (both in the book and in real life) had the support of the Unions,
the Black Americans and, of course, the women. Yet in the novel, the KKK was adamant that she needed to be stopped,
and assassination attempts were made, which makes the book feel so relevant and current, knowing what we know now
about this enthralling epoch of American history. The cyclical nature of politics is like all other trends in human
history; what goes around comes around!
Certainly, a recommended title for anyone who wants to have their imagination charged with possibilities, and
their perceptions of the past-that-might-have-been challenged anew. Read it with an open mind, and heart, looking
to the potential in the future of the American political scene. Enjoy!