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It could be projection. You'd like to think your heroes are like you. "There but for the Grace of God" and all that. Besides, who's to say FDR wouldn't have liked Pratchett?

The quote? Ballad of a Thin Man, Dylan, from Highway 61 Revisited.


Teddy, however, was a voracious reader, so you had the right family, Lance.

Perhaps FDR read them books in college and remembered them and didn't feel like he had to go back and cover new ground?

By the way, Jon Meacham of the Times supports your original theory:

Though a generation apart, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt both loved Alfred Thayer Mahan’s “Influence of Sea Power Upon History” and savored the imperial poems of Kipling. Together such works created a kind of Anglo-American ethos in their minds — an ethos Franklin Roosevelt would make concrete during World War II, when he and Winston Churchill quoted Edward Lear’s nonsense rhymes to each other as they fought Hitler and Japan.

Thems don't seems like dime novels ta me, boy-o!


Just a thought, but there was a long tradition in upper-class WASPdom of indifference to literature. "The gentleman's C" , doing just enough to get by, underscored a certain attitude towards learning, and universities as places of ruling class enjoyment, pleasure.
Why bother, when your sort of people own everything, run the country, have contacts and introductions for the asking, knowing you come from a "good family". Your future is assured, striving for betterment is unseemly. Strenuous bookishness or intellectual pretensions were seen as eccentric, if not a worrying anomaly in cultivating a "muscular Christian." Teddy might have been an anomaly in his vast reading, but he was from an earlier generation than FDR, and in any case went to some lengths to portray himself as a manly athletic sort to balance this, almost overcompensating. (Those poor lions.)

FDR is remembered as the benefactor of the New Deal, and though he was called "traitor to his class", I think he was far more of-his-class than popular history lets on. He was reportedly ill at ease socializing with anyone not of his (patrician) background, never pretended to be a man of the people. His intellectual incuriousity seems to fit with other aspects of his particular clan.

It's the strivers and dreamers who seem to emphasize the value of real education, of learning, books, knowledge and culture.
I'm thinking of the Kennedys here- in the 1920's they were arrivistes who needed every weapon in their arsenal to prove themselves, and the kids were encouraged to do so by Old Joe. It didn't hurt to be Irish either, I suppose; a love of words, language and poetry is no myth, I've found. Just musing.


That's what you have to say about Bill Clinton, that he was a "grind" like Nixon?
Clinton is a voracious reader blessed with a wide ranging intellect, an unusual trait in a modern politician despite the pretensions of poseurs like Newt Gingrich.


Book geeks, a category in which I place my self as well, tend to think that this quality we admire in ourselves is a indicator of something, but the truth is that there are as many kinds of readers as there are people reading books. As a generality it is as useful, and as foolish, as any other.
Reading can be a reflection of a desire for knowledge, an appreciation of language, a love of stories, a desire to look smart, a feeling of inadequacy, an intellectual shield. We can hide in books, use them, suck them dry, skim them, change ourselves, reinforce ourselves, find truth, find lies...

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