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The First Lady of World War II by Shannon McKenna Schmidt (Author)


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On August 27, 1943, news broke in the United States that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was on the other side of the world. A closely guarded secret, Eleanor was traveling to South Pacific as Allied forces battled the Japanese for control of the region. She traveled 25,000 miles over five weeks, to Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia, with numerous island stops en route to her ultimate goal: the island of Guadalcanal, the site of a major Allied victory. Eleanor flew on unheated transport planes and bombers. She slept on army cots, dined in mess halls, trekked through a jungle and took American troops serving in remote corners by excited surprise. (Most would never meet their commander-in-chief, but they did meet his wife.)

THE FIRST LADY OF WWII is the story of this goodwill tour, diplomatic mission, and dangerous fact-finding foray—a wartime accomplishment unmatched by any other First Lady. Shannon McKenna Schmidt weaves this history based on years of research: from the extensive Pacific Trip file among the First Lady’s papers at the FDR Presidential Library—an amazing time capsule of the journey—to declassified Navy dispatches, records in the National Archives of America, Australia and New Zealand, personal correspondence from a general who spent weeks traveling with Eleanor, and letters from American soldiers who met her along the way. Throughout this 5-week-trip, Schmidt unpacks the many sides of Eleanor: a woman, a wife, a politician and a celebrity who fought battles at home and abroad throughout her life. Shannon McKenna Schmidt is a journalist and world traveler, and the co-author of Novel Destinations (National Geographic Books) and Writers Between the Covers (Plume).

This audio program includes an archival recording of a speech given by Eleanor Roosevelt in Wellington, New Zealand on August 29, 1943.

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