Winter War by Eric Rauchway

FDR’s first inauguration was the last presidential inauguration to be held in March, almost four months after the elections in November. He was elected by an overwhelming majority, defeating incumbent President Hoover. Winter War describes those four months in detail, highlighting how the fight between the progressive FDR and the conservative Hoover led to the establishment of the Democratic and Republican parties as we know them today.

Hoover was convinced he would win re-election against NY Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, so when he ended up losing he decided to do everything possible to work against FDR, even if it meant worsening the plight of the American people as the Depression got worse. In eight chapters, Rauchway highlights the differences between Hoover and FDR in dealing with the issues of the day: foreign policy, the plight of the farmer, Communism, African Americans and social justice, the threat of Nazism and the bank failures which reached a peak just days before the inauguration.

Winter War was a good read which is relevant to today’s political world. While in certain places it came across as a little scholarly, it incorporated lots of new information not often found in other books on the Roosevelt presidency. The ride FDR and Hoover took together on their way to the Capitol for the inauguration was marked by an icy silence which came about through the events of the previous four months (and longer if you add in the campaign). While the focus is on politics, many anecdotes are included which make both presidents human.

Having read many books on FDR, this provides a focus on his four months as President-Elect not often found in other books. On the other hand, if you are interested in how the Republican Party became what it is today, then Winter War should be on top of your reading list.


Winter War will be released on November 13th, 2018. I read the galley through NetGalley.

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