Suggestions for Reading No Ordinary Time
While you are reading No Ordinary Time, focus on Eleanor and Franklin as they encounter the new conditions that the war brings. In particular listen for what Goodwin has to say about:
- what shaped their personalities and their beliefs and values
- their interaction with each other and with their family, colleagues, friends, and the public their response to the challenges both abroad and at home that the war brought
- their contributions to the shaping of the postwar world.
After you have finished reading, consider the following:
1. If you had the opportunity, what one question would you ask Eleanor/Franklin?
2. What about Eleanor did you find most appealing/most unappealing? The same for Franklin.
3. Franklin and Eleanor had 'no ordinary' marriage.
- What was your personal response to their relationship? Probe your response and try to understand the values, beliefs, and experiences that shaped your response.
- Consider the explanations that Goodwin offers to explain their unconventional relationship. How satisfactory do you find these? What additional insights might you offer?
5. The general public was for the most part oblivious to the personal relationship that existed between Eleanor and Franklin and the close relationships that they had with other people. If this scenario were transposed to the present, how do you think the public would react? Account for your answer.
6. Goodwin talks about fundamental changes in American life that began during the Roosevelt years: changes in the economy, women's roles, race relations, the relationship of individuals to government, and America's place in the world, to mention only a few. Be familiar with what the book says about each of these and then think about the ways in which each has had an impact on your life.
7. Although the spouses of our presidents have become very public figures, there are no stated qualifications for the position of the president's wife/husband nor is there a list of what she/he may or may not do. If you could write a job description for this position, what would it include?
8. Following is a list of the First Ladies who followed Eleanor: Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush.
- In your opinion, which ones have most followed the model of First Lady set by Eleanor?
- Which ones have you found most/least appealing and why?
Which ones have you found most effective and why?
9. We are living in a less than ordinary time. In reading the book, what did you learn that may help you better to understand and to adjust to the present world?