Derek Leebaert: Unlikely Heroes Book Talk

Derek Leebaert: Unlikely Heroes

October 11, 2023, Frances Perkins Center Presents:
Friendship and Courage in Times of Crisis:
What FDR and Frances Perkins Reveal about Confronting Political Turmoil Today

An economy in turmoil, an angry and frustrated workforce, racial injustice, war and conflict threatening from abroad: these are just some of the issues that challenged the Roosevelt administration, and those we continue to face today. 

We offer a recording of our conversation with Derek Leebaert, author of Unlikely Heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, His Four Lieutenants, and the World They MadeGiovanna Gray Lockhart, Executive Director of the Frances Perkins Center, and Scott Wallace, Co-Chair of the Wallace Global Fund. Panelists discussed how Frances Perkins, Henry Wallace, and FDR fostered problem-solving that led to the greatest policy achievements of the 20th century. 

Event photos by Keri Herer Photography


From the publisher: 
“Drawing on new materials, Unlikely Heroes constructs an entirely fresh understanding of FDR and his presidency by spotlighting the powerful, equally wounded figures whom he raised up to confront the Depression, then to beat the Axis.

Only four people served at the top echelon of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Administration from the frightening early months of spring 1933 until he died in April 1945, on the cusp of wartime victory. These lieutenants composed the tough, constrictive, long-term core of government. They built the great institutions being raised against the Depression, implemented the New Deal, and they were pivotal to winning World War II.

Yet, in their different ways, each was as wounded as the polio-stricken titan. Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, and Henry Wallace were also strange outsiders. Up to 1933, none would ever have been considered for high office. Still, each became a world figure, and it would have been exceedingly difficult for Roosevelt to transform the nation without them. By examining the lives of these four, a very different picture emerges of how Americans saved their democracy and rescued civilization overseas. Many of the dangers that they all overcame are troublingly like those America faces today.”

Read more on the publisher’s website.

Dr. Charles A. Scontras Center for Labor and Community Education at the University of Southern Maine