Rightful Heritage is a biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his efforts to preserve America’s natural landscapes. The book explores Roosevelt’s love for the environment, which he developed during his youth exploring the Hudson River Valley and bird watching.
It also delves into his presidency, where he directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history.
The book highlights two supporting characters, Harold Ickes, the secretary of the interior from 1933 to 1946, and Henry Wallace, the secretary of agriculture who became vice president in 1941. Brinkley shows how Roosevelt thought deeply about the environment, more so than perhaps any other president save his distant relative and namesake, Theodore Roosevelt.
In “Rightful Heritage,” Brinkley’s best set pieces involve epic fights with Congress, and within Roosevelt’s own administration. Roosevelt argued that responsible environmental stewardship was critical to economic growth; that the country would never revive if it didn’t rehabilitate its natural resources.
What I Liked
Everything – absolutely everything. I have a new found appreciation for FDR and everyone involved in the tough as nails battle to save small pieces of wild America and develop public lands. They are all a treasure. This book is a must read for anyone interested in public lands or environmental history.
I really loved how FDR threaded the politics of public lands and built on Teddy Roosevelt’s durable political coalition of hunters, anglers, outdoor recreationists, wildlife advocates, sustainable forest companies, municipalities looking for water, and States looking for money to makes sure that our public lands worked for everyone and lasted for years after they were established.
What I Did Not Like