The year was 1932. At age fourteen Robert Beir’s journey through life changed irrevocably when a classmate called him a “dirty Jew.” Suddenly Beir encountered the belligerent poison of anti-Semitism. The safe confines of his upbringing had been violated. The pain that he felt at that moment was far more hurtful than any blow. Its memory would last a lifetime.
Beir’s experiences with anti-Semitism served as a microcosm for the anti-Semitism among the majority of Americans. That year, a politician named Franklin Delano Roosevelt ascended to the presidency. Over the next twelve years, he became a scion of optimism and carried a refreshing, unbridled confidence in a nation previously mired in fear and deeply depressed. His policies and ethics saved the capitalist system. His strong leadership and unwavering faith helped to defeat Hitler.
The Jews of America revered President Roosevelt. To a young Robert Beir, Roosevelt was an American hero. In mid-life, however, Beir experienced a conflict. New research was questioning Roosevelt’s record regarding the Holocaust. He felt compelled to embark on a historian’s quest, asking only the toughest questions of his childhood hero, including:
How much did President Roosevelt know about the Holocaust? What could Roosevelt have done? Why wasn’t there an urgent rescue effort?
In answering these questions and others, Robert Beir has done a masterful job. This book is graphically written, well-researched, and provocative. The portrait depicted of a man he once thought to be morally incorruptible amidst a circumstance of moral bankruptcy is truly unforgettable.
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