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July 18 , 2008

FDR's Funeral Train

A Betrayed Widow, a Soviet Spy, and a Presidency in the Balance


The April 1945 journey of FDR's funeral train became a thousand-mile odyssey, fraught with heartbreak and scandal. As it passed through the night, few of the grieving onlookers gave thought to what might be happening behind the Pullman shades, where women whispered and men tossed back highballs. Inside was a Soviet spy, a newly widowed Eleanor Roosevelt, who had just discovered that her husband's mistress was in the room with him when he died, all the Supreme Court justices, and incoming president Harry S. Truman who was scrambling to learn secrets FDR had never shared with him.

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Weaving together information from long-forgotten diaries and declassified Secret Service documents, journalist and historian Robert Klara enters the private world on board that famous train. He chronicles the three days during which the country grieved and despaired as never before, and a new president hammered out the policies that would galvanize a country in mourning and win the Second World War.

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