The oldest grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt will be in The City in conjunction with the paperback release of “Too Close to the Sun,” an account of his earliest years — from ages 3-15 — living in the White House with FDR. He will give a talk at CPS Lectures Series at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8.
What inspired you to write the book? I started reading about my grandfather and my grandmother and my great-grandmother and found I had a different view. I lived with all these people. Historians don’t have a sense of these famous people as human beings.
What do you want people to learn from the book? I want them to grasp what I am suggesting in the title of the book — what happens to people when they are circulating in that very intense atmosphere around any president. Then you take somebody as dynamic as FDR, and you intensify the situation.
Any qualities of FDR that the current president should incorporate? I don’t think he so far has demonstrated that personal touch that FDR had. FDR was able to talk in idealist terms as well as practical terms and in the same sentence. I have yet to see Obama, for example, really lambasting the financial magnets of Wall Street, which FDR did very plainly in his 1936 address to the Democratic National Convention.
Any thoughts on the United States today? I think we are in dire straits — and not just financially. I am appalled at the level of fear that I still perceive dominates American people’s thinking as a result of 9/11.