You can order a copy of High Tension: FDR’s Battle to Power America with an autographed bookplate exclusively from Shakespeare & Co. online.

Roosevelt House is proud to present a live Zoom discussion of High Tension: FDR’s Battle to Power America by John A. Riggs. In this captivating work of narrative history, Riggs tells the epic story of FDR’s struggle to bring affordable power to the entire nation. The author will be in conversation with former U. S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

Exhaustively researched and compellingly written, High Tension: FDR’s Battle to Power America chronicles the shrewd political maneuvering, controversial legislation, resistance from powerful business figures, and consideration for rural citizens and farmers that factored into one of the New Deal’s hardest-won achievements: bringing light and power to all Americans. By re-shaping the electricity system, FDR not only helped galvanize the industrial might that won WWII but established a model for public-private enterprise that remains relevant to such modern-day issues as clean energy technology, health care, transportation infrastructure, and access to broadband internet.

As recent Roosevelt House guest Jonathan Alter said: “Electricity was the internet of its day―and bringing it to the countryside affected more Americans than any other New Deal program. It was also the source of a bitter struggle between public and private power, full of ‘high tension’―the double entendre title of John A. Riggs’s lucid and compelling tale. This is a fresh angle of vision on one of the most important and under-appreciated stories of the first half of the 20th century.”

John A. Riggs is a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, where he directed its Program on Energy and Environment from 1995 to 2006. He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and then Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1993 to 1995. Previously, he served for 20 years in staff positions in the U.S. Congress, including 13 years as staff director of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. He has edited or co-edited several Aspen Institute books, including A Climate Policy Framework: Balancing Policy and Politics. 

Bruce Babbitt served as U. S. Secretary of the Interior in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 2001. Previously, he served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1975 to 1978 and as Governor of Arizona from 1978 to 1987. He is the author of several books, includingCities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America.

Dear Friend of Roosevelt House:

Thank you for attending our public programs in such great numbers during these fraught eight months of lockdown and social distancing. Since March, when the pandemic first struck New York and the house closed its doors, we have welcomed more than 10,000 attendees to Roosevelt House Zoom events. Our priority has been, and remains, assembling the best thinkers and authors we can bring before you, in both new and encore programming, to help us both to remember past crises and challenges, and navigate the challenges of the current crisis. Even though we very much miss welcoming you to Roosevelt House in person, we pledge to you that, as long as we must, we will continue featuring opportunities for civic engagement online.

To fulfill these goals we look to you, more than ever, for your crucially needed financial support. December 1 was “Giving Tuesday,” and we ask that you help us navigate these unprecedented times—and opportunities—by contributing to Roosevelt House so that our programming can continue robustly.


Many thanks—and thank you, as always, for your loyalty and generosity.

For information on all upcoming Hunter@Home events and to watch past events, visit

John A. Riggs — High Tension: FDR’s Battle to Power America | Posted on December 1st, 2020 | Book Discussions, Public Programs