The President’s Man

Elliott Roosevelt

After watching Ken Burns’ documentary about the Roosevelts, I decided to read a book I picked up at a tag sale years ago: The President’s Man by Elliott Roosevelt, FDR’s son.

Elliott Roosevelt served with distinction in the Army Air Corps in World War II during the Allied invasion of North Africa,  but later in the war he was involved in some shady dealings, including a procurement scandal involving lots of parties and  presents and Hollywood actresses provided by Howard Hughes. He got involved in more  scandals after the war, during what Wikipedia calls “a business career marked by ties to organized crime.”

The President’s Man also deals with organized crime. It’s set just before FDR’s election in 1932. When FDR receives mysterious death threats from  organized crime figures, he calls on his old college chum Jack Endicott to protect him.

Endicott is the archetypal suave old-money Boston boy who owns a yacht and a speedy roadster and an airplane and a townhouse and a  place  on Cape Cod. He is very resourceful because he’s so rich and has so many rich friends.

He meets with Dutch Schultz and Lucky Luciano and Al Capone and  lots of other underworld figures, and of  course they all try to kill him, but he thwarts all their evil plans with the help  of  an African-American cab driver and a hooker with a heart  of gold.

Not only that, he wins a sailing regatta and flies Lucy Mercer to the Democratic convention, so she can see FDR nominated.

There are some interesting glimpses into the FDR household from someone who was there,  and there are cameo appearances by Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong, but other than that, not a lot of substance. Still,  it’s a fun read.