Immediately after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, virtually everyone who was in any way associated with him received offers from editors and publishers to write memoirs—and it is by now a matter of record that most of these offers were accepted. I doubt that there have ever been so many books written so soon about the life and times of any one man.
I myself had no intention of adding to the burden on the library shelves. I had some wonderful, ineradicable memories and an unorganized assortment of notes from the years 1940-1945, and I intended to put these down in more or less haphazard form to be contributed to the Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park and filed there for whatever use future biographers might be able to make of them, for I knew how much of our knowledge of Abraham Lincoln has depended on chance bits of recollection written down by comparatively unimportant contemporaries.
I knew that Harry Hopkins was planning to write a book—indeed, he had talked to me about it some months before Roosevelt's death and had begun at that time to make arrangements with publishers. When I saw him occasionally during the summer and fall of 1945 he talked as if he were making progress with the book and I eagerly awaited its publication. I did not know at that time, but have learned subsequently, that he hoped to have the benefit of aid in the writing from his friend, Raymond Swing. In November I saw Hopkins for the last time and went to Hollywood to work for Samuel Goldwyn on a movie, " The Best Years of Our Lives." (This title referred hopefully to the future as opposed to the past.) I was there in the Goldwyn studio when David Hopkins telephoned me the news of his father's death, and a week or so thereafter Louise Hopkins telephoned from New York to ask me if I would consider finishing the work on the book. I said I would do anything I could for Harry's memory, but I had no conception of what the task would involve. I knew that this book was to be limited to the war years- and that was the one period when I had close associations with Roosevelt and Hopkins—but I did not know what form the book was taking, nor how far Hopkins had got with it, nor how much of his writing was