This book is not about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's life, nor is it a history of his New Deal. However, these matters are within the scope of the book as it discusses how FDR addressed the American people in order to persuade them to accept him and his political agenda from 1933 to 1945. The focus is on the rhetorical relationship between Roosevelt and the national audience.
The progression of chapters in this book is probably not what one usually expects in a work on Roosevelt, but they were ordered purposefully. Chapter I argues that FDR was a prototypical rhetorical president. That is, he delivered programmatic speeches and Fireside Chats to move the people to elect and support him, and to persuade the public to move the Congress to adopt his legislative agenda. He practiced the tenets of the rhetorical presidency and usually excelled in all of them. However, there were occasions when he did not succeed as he would have wished, as in the purge and Court fight. These instances, too, are worth investigating for their own intrinsic merit and for the purposes of demonstrating how certain tenets should not have been abused and how they could have been practiced better.
Chapter 2 treats his speech delivery. Roosevelt's delivery has not been given the credit it deserves in his persuasive practices. The fact is that his audiences saw him speaking in person, heard him on the radio, watched him on the newsreels, and read his speeches in the newspapers. Except for in the print media, FDR communicated his thoughts to audiences by combining the artistry of his words with the artifice of his skills in speech delivery. This chapter makes the focused argument that his delivery was a potent factor in his rhetorical presidency.