Roosevelt's Warrior: Harold L. Ickes and the New Deal

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Johns Hopkins Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 414 pages
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By any measure, Harold Ickes was one of the towering figures of the New Deal. With remarkable energy and a genius for organization, he transformed a tradition-bound, much-maligned Department of the Interior into a progressive and highly respected organization. He was known for his sharp wit and brilliant intellect. He could be crusty, temperamental, and self-righteous. And he was just the kind of tenacious fighter FDR needed. In this political biography of the nation's most influential secretary of the interior, Jeanne Clarke examines Harold Ickes's tenure in the Roosevelt administration and his role as a powerful champion of New Deal policies. She offers an unprecedented examination of the internal conflicts that raged within Roosevelt's bureaucracy and provides new insights into the public career and private life of FDR's "liberal lightning rod." Ickes led the Interior Department for all of Roosevelt's thirteen years in the White House, a tenure longer than any Interior secretary before or since. Soon after his appointment as secretary in 1933, Ickes took on the added duties and political clout of public works administrator and oil administrator. As a popular public speaker, he was an important player in FDR's reelection campaigns. He often deflected criticism and attention away from the president by assuming the role of the administration's "hatchet man." In a variety of ways, Clarke concludes, Ickes helped to define the role of the modern political executive. Roosevelt's Warrior is also a revealing look at FDR himself. Clarke describes the president as a figure so genuinely attractive that he managed to keep even self-styled curmudgeons like Ickes orbiting around him. To this day, Clarke notes, FDR has the capacity to attract our attention and influence our political life. This study of his close friend and political partner Harold Ickes helps to explain why.

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About the author (1996)

Jeanne Nienaber Clarke teaches at the University of Arizona. Her books include Can Organizations Change? and two editions of Staking Out the Terrain.

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