Frank Delano Roosevelt (search) was a doer, a pragmatist with a charming streak as broad as his grin. He was a man of steadfast authority. He was also a target of contempt: An aristocratic man of the people, he was seen by fellow patricians as a traitor to his class.
Most of all, he was a believer. Roosevelt never gave up on his country — even in the dark days of the Depression and World War II while he served as the nation's 32nd president.
He never gave up on his fellow Americans, any more than on himself. Here was a man who never stopped believing he would someday regain the use of his polio-crippled legs.
He didn't. But during his extraordinary life and his 12 years in the White House, Roosevelt did plenty else.
A new two-part, four-hour special — "FDR: A Presidency Revealed" (search) — begins at the opening of Roosevelt's first term as president, with America facing 25 percent unemployment and the imminent collapse of the U.S. banking system, and continues to his death a dozen years later, after a reinvigoration of the U.S. economy and just before the surrender of Germany.
Along the way, the film explains how Roosevelt overcame enormous odds to win the presidency and remake it in ways the nation still feels today. The portrait airs on the History Channel 9 p.m. EDT Sunday and Monday.