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‘Hissing Cousins’ to be discussed March 9

The Long Branch Free Public Library’s Non-Fiction Book Club will meet 1:30 p.m. on March 9 in the library’s Community Room at 328 Broadway to discuss “Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth” by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer.

When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, his beautiful and flamboyant daughter was transformed into “Princess Alice,” arguably the century’s first global celebrity.

Thirty-two years later, her first cousin Eleanor moved into the White House as first lady. The cousins grew up in New York City in close proximity, both in age and location, spending a large part of their childhoods together. But their politics and temperaments could not have been more distinct.

Do-gooder Eleanor was committed to social justice, but hated the limelight; acid-tongued Alice was an opponent of big government who gained notoriety for her cutting remarks. While Eleanor revolutionized the role of first lady with her outspoken passion for human rights, Alice made the most of her insider connections to influence politics. In the 1930s, they even wrote opposing syndicated newspaper columns and embarked on competing nationwide speaking tours.

Although Alice and Eleanor liked to play up their oil-and-water relationship, they were far more alike than most historians acknowledge. Vivid, intimate, and stylishly written, “Hissing Cousins” finally sets this relationship center stage, revealing the contentious bond between two political trailblazers who short-circuited the rules of gender and power, each in her own way. With stylish prose and smart analysis, the co-authors have written an entertaining and educational story of cousins whose tangled lives provide a sweeping look at the 20th century.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with the book club by discussing this lively double biography of two extraordinary women. Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk at the Main Library on Broadway. The book club meets each month from September through June, and new members are always welcome.

On April 13, the book club will discuss, “On the Move: A Life,” by Dr. Oliver Sachs.

Light refreshments will be served. This program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 732-222-3900 or visit longbranchlib.org.

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