Save Big On Open-Box & Preowned: Buy "Coolidge” from Amazon Warehouse Deals and save 66% off the $35.00 list price. Product is eligible for Amazon's 30-day returns policy and Prime or FREE Shipping. See all Open-Box & Preowned offers from Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Coolidge Hardcover – February 12, 2013
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
A Dialogue Between Amity Shlaes and Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank
Amity Shlaes: I like Coolidge, but do you, Paul, think he matters? Coolidge was president in the 1920s. That’s a long time ago.
Paul Volcker: Well there are some parallels to current times. During his time, Coolidge was under great pressure, much like today. Even before he was president, as governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge was forced into the Boston police strike. He took a principled stance.
AS:You mean, he fired the police, who were good people. But he felt he had to fire them, because Boston fell into chaos when they left their post.
PV: Yes, that attracted a lot of attention, and for good reason. He was a good man himself. Sometimes I wish we had more principled men serving in government now.
AS: Is that kind of principled action even possible today?
PV: It is obviously difficult. But in the area of monetary policy the received wisdom has been that by removing decision-making a bit away from raw political life, you have a better chance of following reasonable, disciplined policy, and taking a longer term view. That is the hope.
AS: Coolidge tried to live a clean life. Harding had partied. Does that matter?
AS: What about the Federal Reserve Bank’s policy in the late teens and early 1920s? The Fed’s boss then, W.P.G. Harding, took a lot of criticism for supporting tightening.
PV: Central banking theory was not very well developed in those days, and it certainly was not well developed in the United States. But there was a sense that since there was inflation, raising interest rates was appropriate. The policy was not terribly active; there were no concerted open market operations in those days. The Federal Reserve was more reactive than an initiating instrument. It so happened they had a big inflation followed by a big, but short, recession. There are debates to this day as to whether the Federal Reserve failed to react soon enough given the depth of the recession or whether the hands-off attitude led to the rapid recovery after they dealt with the inflation.
AS: At the Federal Reserve W.P.G. Harding raised interest rates 300 basis points, which was basically doubling it, to squeeze out inflation.
PV: 300 basis points is nothing anymore (laughs).
AS: Congress blamed the fed’s head back then for the recession. Is it hard to be the Fed Head when people blame you for recession? You had recessions.
PV: Of course! You’re willing to experience it once, you don’t like to have one twice.
AS: Are there ways Coolidge was better than Ronald Reagan? Or, at the least, does Silent Cal warrant an upgrade?
PV: Coolidge is forgotten and Reagan is a hero. Coolidge had the police strike, Reagan had the strike of the air traffic controllers. Coolidge didn’t like to spend money, Reagan liked to reduce taxes.
AS: What’s important?
PV: Coolidge balanced the budget. Saving, we don’t do that anymore. Instead we rely on Social Security and government. Now we fight about all the entitlements, those programs didn’t even exist back in Coolidge’s day.
AS: What’s your summary?
PV: What we understood was that Coolidge was kind of a do-nothing president. He took over for Harding, he was an honest guy, he was kind of open and frugal, but that was it. But in fact there’s so much to learn from Coolidge. Any president is going to face a lot of problems and Coolidge faced up to them. He produced, after Harding, honest government. He contributed to some degree of trust in government. Americans today need to read Amity’s biography to learn more about him.
Amazon's editors selected this title as a Best Book of the Month in biography & memoir. See our current Editors' Picks.
More About the Author
Miss Shlaes is the author of three national bestsellers, COOLIDGE, THE FORGOTTEN MAN, and THE GREEDY HAND.
Miss Shlaes chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She is chairman of the Hayek Prize, a prize for free market books given by the Manhattan Institute.
She teaches economic history at New York University's Stern School of Business.
Miss Shlaes has been the recipient of the Frederic Bastiat Prize of the International Policy Network, the Warren Brookes Prize (2008) of the American Legislative Exchange Council, as well as a two-time finalist for the Loeb Prize (Anderson School/UCLA).
In 2009, "The Forgotten Man" won the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and did graduate work at the Freie Universitaet Berlin on a DAAD fellowship. She and her husband, the editor and author Seth Lipsky, have four children.
Top Customer Reviews
For all of its considerable detail, I did find Shlaes' narrative to be lacking in certain areas and inartfully crafted in others. Coolidge's money-saving economic policies get most of the attention, as they should, but there is little on Coolidge Administration foreign policy save for the last-minute drive to ratify the war-"outlawing" Kellogg-Briand Pact. The U.S. was not "isolationist" during the 1920s in any meaningful sense of the word, but Shlaes inadvertently leaves that impression. As to Shlaes' style, it is best described as "lumpy." Characters are repeatedly reintroduced to us, while other figures who might have been expected to get much more attention, such as Coolidge's secretary C. Bascom Slemp, barely rate a mention. The short-shrifting of Slemp seems particularly unfortunate because he was a Virginia Republican at a time when Southern Republicans were rare; including him as a major player would have added some depth to the comparatively scanty discussion of Coolidge's policies towards the South and black civil rights.
If you are interested in learning about Coolidge's life, personality, and Presidency, this is a fairly decent introductory book, but I still came away somewhat disappointed. Several more runs through the editorial mill would, I believe, have strengthened both the content and the prose.
The future president was born in 1872 into a solid family in Vermont, and Shlaes discusses the traits such as thrift and perseverance that young Calvin internalized while growing up in New England in the late nineteenth century. Coolidge's tenacity paid off during his time at Amherst College in Massachusetts, as he bounced back from adversity to succeed and go on to become a lawyer.
Coolidge eventually entered politics and began climbing the GOP ladder in the Bay State--it is far from certain that someone as introverted as Coolidge could ever succeed in politics today to the degree that Coolidge did, but in his day he was a great vote-getter, and at election time he usually outpolled other Republicans who were on the same ticket with him.
Shlaes notes that Coolidge became more conservative during his early years in public service and that he came to realize that in many situations inaction represents strength, not weakness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
“Coolidge” was a valuable reading experience for me because it taught me about the 30th president of the United States, one I knew very little about. Read morePublished 5 days ago by B. Wilfong
A great history lesson for Baby Boomers and Millenials. History repeats itself!Published 14 days ago by Jon G. James
I really wanted to learn about Coolidge, but I am giving up reading this before he even becomes president! Read morePublished 14 days ago by A Reader
One of the better Presidential Biiographiess that I have readPublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
I thought this was a history book, instead it's a political book. Instead of describing so many important details that happened during the Coolidge administration in an unbiased... Read morePublished 21 days ago by edcaroleg
Calvin Coolidge is America's 30th president yet he remains a largely forgotten figure. Author Amity Shlaes seeks to illuminate readers with her biography: Coolidge. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Stephen T.
The historical perspective of the Coolidge precedency shines a light on the same issues that are facing us today; tax policy, government debt, the role of the Federal government... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
Perhaps the harshness of my review comes from the fact that I read so many glowing reviews of this book. My expectations were too high, and bound for a letdown. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JP
This bio t is interesting, well written, thorough but a bit tedious with some repetitive details.Published 2 months ago by Larry Pitcher