FDR's Funeral Train: A Betrayed Widow, a Soviet Spy, and a Presidency in the Balance.

Author:Moser, John
Position:Book review
 
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FDR's Funeral Train: A Betrayed Widow, a Soviet Spy, and a Presidency in the Balance. By Robert Klara. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 244 pp.

In FDR's Funeral Train, magazine writer and editor Robert Klara tells the story of the train that carried Franklin D. Roosevelt's body from Warm Springs, Georgia, where he died on April 12, 1945, to its final resting place at the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, New York. As it made its grim voyage it carried some of the most noteworthy individuals in America, including the newly sworn-in President Harry Truman, the current and former first ladies, the cabinet, the Supreme Court, and leaders of both the House and the Senate. As it made its way along the eastern seaboard, it passed countless mourning Americans who lined the track to pay their final respects to the man who had served just over 12 years as their nation's leader. It was, likely, the country's largest outpouring of collective grief since the murder of Abraham Lincoln, 80 years earlier.

Klara is at his best in conveying the nation's sadness and anxiety during those days in April, as Americans not only mourned their fallen hero but wondered whether his chosen successor, the still-obscure Truman, was in any way capable of bearing his mantle. The author is an unabashed admirer of both Roosevelt and Truman, but it is certainly not hard to believe that the passing of the thirty-second president evoked such emotion. Klara is also a talented storyteller with an obvious love of trains; indeed, the book is at least as much about the locomotives and passenger cars as it is about those traveling on...

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