Eliot Rosewater is a member of a rich family and the son of a Republican senator. After serving in the Second World War, Eliot is hospitalized for “combat fatigue” in Paris, where he meets Sylvia who becomes his wife. He finishes up his law degree at Harvard and goes on to get a doctorate in international law. Upon his graduation he is given the presidency of the Goldwater Foundation and the responsibility to oversee $87,000,000, give or take a few hundred dollars.
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Eliot drinks heavily, but is able to hold his liquor, and for five or six years lives respectably with Sylvia in a New York townhouse and runs the Foundation from an upscale office. But his drinking gets out of hand, and his mental health appears to deteriorate. He goes to a psychiatrist who treats him for a year in which he remains sober and acts in a normal way, but then the psychiatrist tells Sylvia that Eliot is too well-defended to be treatable. Soon after, Eliot disappears and goes to his family's home, Rosewater County in Indiana, where he gives small sums of money to poor people when they asked for help. Sylvia joins him for a while and helps him in his work. But then she leaves and, for a while, becomes hard and unfeeling .
Eliot goes to live in his filthy Goldwater Foundation offices, getting fat and sloppy, drinking and taking phone calls day or night from poor people who need sympathy or money or both. Then one day Sylvia agrees to meet him in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, a young lawyer, Norman Mushari, is following Eliot's life carefully. He knows of Rosewater relatives who will pay him an immense amount of money to get some of the Rosewater Foundation funds for them. The lives of this second Rosewater family, their social climbing, their relative poverty, their depressions and so forth are described.
It's a while before we get back to Eliot. He is preparing to go to meet Sylvia. His father visits and is angry with him. After the Senator leaves, Eliot finishes dressing and goes to catch his Greyhound bus. That's the only thing he can remember. He doesn't even recognize a Goldwater Foundation client whom he had been talking to and comforting almost every day. It's some months later before he comes to himself again. He is surprised he has his trim athletic body back. His father is there, very happy because he believes his son is cured.
The review of this Book prepared by Shelagh Pratt Mooberry
Eliot Rosewater is the president of the Rosewater Foundation, the 14th largest family fortune in America. He became president simply by being the oldest and closest heir of the foundation's creator. He has complete and total control of the money until he either dies or is proven insane. Eliot Rosewater has a passion for running volunteer fire departments and helping people who can't help themselves. This, in the eyes of the wealthy, especially a particular young lawyer named Norman Mushari, is enough to prove Eliot Rosewater's insanity. Unfortunately, Eliot Rosewater has never produced an heir. If he is relieved of his office of president, the job will fall to a very distant relative, Fred Rosewater, an insurance salesman in Pisquontuit, Massachusettes.
The review of this Book prepared by Eucalia