In Conversation with Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel
By Kisa Schell
Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel
In a momentous occasion, William Vanden Heuvel, chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and all around Roosevelt enthusiast, spoke at the Roosevelt House about his new publication Freedom From Fear: The Life and Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Part of the American Presidency series by Thornwillow Press, Ambassador Vanden Heuvel’s work is beautifully printed on archival stock and hand-bound in beige Moroccan goatskin. This exquisite production nearly rivals the quality of the words it contains, as Ambassador Vanden Heuvel provides a highly personal portrait of a president he admired so greatly.
Ambassador Vanden Heuvel’s appreciation for President Franklin D. Roosevelt started as a boy, when he listened to FDR’s Fireside Chats with his family. Vanden Heuvel was so determined to pay his respects to the late president that he travelled all the way from Rochester to the Washington D.C., where Eleanor Roosevelt herself, impressed by his appreciation, admitted him into the funeral.
Harold Holzer, the Jonathon F. Fanton Director of the Roosevelt House, joined Ambassador Vanden Heuvel in discussion. An enthusiast of President Lincoln himself, Holzer’s recent publication Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion won the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism. This duo of powerhouse historians provided an impressive insight into the private and political life of Franklin D. Roosevelt through vivid anecdotes. In his closing remarks, Ambassador Vanden Heuvel summarized what made FDR a truly great president:
“President Roosevelt is a person who took a tragedy like the economic breakdown of the United States or the Great Depression, events that really break people down to their core being, and with dignity and pose, saved the Democratic system by conducting a democratic revolution and he did it successfully.”#