Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven

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An “engrossing” memoir of finding comfort, company—and mischief—at the famed Georgia retreat for children with polio (Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air).

Just after her eleventh birthday, Susan Richards Shreve was sent to the Polio Foundation in Warm Springs, Georgia. Famously founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt after he was disabled by the disease himself, the haven would be her home, off and on, for the next two years. In this piercingly honest memoir, Shreve recaptures her early adolescence, as well as an era of American life gripped by a fearful epidemic.
At Warm Springs, Shreve found herself in a community of similarly afflicted children, and for the first time she was one of the gang. Away from her protective mother, she became a feisty troublemaker and an outspoken ringleader. She navigated first love, rocky friendships, religious questions, and family tensions—and experienced healing of all kinds. During her stay, the Salk vaccine would be discovered, ensuring that Shreve would be among the last Americans to have suffered childhood polio.
“This sensitive, beautifully written memoir can stand on its own as a glimpse into an era of suffering, and as a testimony to the human spirit.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Shreve succeeds at the difficult task of recapturing, and communicating, what it was like to be young.” —People
“Part memoir, part confession, part mediation on both polio and the president who made it a national cause, Warm Springs unflinchingly illuminates an iconic moment in American history.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

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WARM SPRINGS: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven

User Review  - Kirkus

Memoir of life at Roosevelt's Warm Springs polio center, where the author stayed between the ages of 11 and 13. Novelist Shreve (A Student of Living Things, 2006, etc.) draws on an unpublished novel ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TimBazzett - LibraryThing

This is one of the most thought-provoking books about polio that I have read, and I read a pile of polio books a few years ago while researching a book I was writing. But Shreve's book cuts to the ... Read full review

Selected pages


II What Becomes an Ordinary Life
III Dress Rehearsal
IV Leaving Home

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About the author (2008)

Susan Richards Shreve’s published novels include A Student of Living Things and Warm Springs. She has worked as a professor of English at George Mason University and was previously cochair and president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Shreve has received several grants for fiction writing, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts award.

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