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Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies (Modern First Ladies) Hardcover – October 15, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern First Ladies
  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1st edition, edition (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070061737X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700617371
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Miller (Isabella Greenway: An Enterprising Woman) explores how Woodrow Wilson's two wives influenced his time in office, drawing a close connection between personal struggle and political action. Dying of kidney failure just 18 months after Wilson's first inauguration, his wife Ellen Axson had been "quiet, intellectual, dutiful, and frugal." An artist of modest talent who sought success by dedicating herself to her husband's promising career rather than her own, Ellen broadened Wilson's appreciation of art and literature, made translations and digests for his early writing, suggested revisions for books and speeches, and helped him select advisers. An intensely loving partner who struggled with depression, Ellen tolerated and even abetted Wilson's intense, possibly sexual, relationship with another woman. She was also the first presidential wife to lobby for her favorite cause: urban renewal. Fifteen months after Ellen's death, Wilson married a "flamboyant, confident, and fashionable" widow, Edith Bolling Galt, who would become infamous for usurping executive power after Wilson was debilitated by a stroke during his second term, though Miller maintains a scholarly detachment in recounting these possibly world-changing events. This latest installment in the University Press of Kansas's Modern First Ladies series may alter some readers' opinions of our nation's 28th president. 22 photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

"In this compelling book Miller has given us a rich portrait of Woodrow Wilson's two wives, telling family stories that became deeply significant to the course of the twentieth century."--John Milton Cooper, author of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

"In felicitous prose, Miller brings to life two remarkable and very different first ladies. Readers will never view Wilson or his presidency the same way again."--Stacy A. Cordery, author of Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker

"A fascinating, original contrast of two first ladies and with it a fresh view of their complex husband. An authoritative dual biography."--Michael McGerr, author of A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920

"Woodrow Wilson desperately needed adoring women to warm up his austere personality and to advise him. One of America's most important presidents and the historic defender of internationalism and the right of self-determination, Wilson could not be a great man without feminine support. . . . Deeply researched and graced with balanced judgment, this is a book you must read to understand Wilson and the twentieth century."--Kathleen M. Dalton, author of Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life

More About the Author

Kristie Miller has been writing women back into history: "Ruth Hanna McCormick," (1992) a biography of her grandmother, a congresswoman in the 1920s; "Isabella Greenway" (2004), Arizona congresswoman, and founder of the legendary Arizona Inn; "Volume of Friendship," Isabella's fifty-year correspondence with Eleanor Roosevelt, co-edited with Robert H. McGinnis,(2009). Her biography of the two wives of Woodrow Wilson, Ellen and Edith, will be published in the fall of 2010.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lisa S Harper on October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this crisply written portrait of two remarkable women, or should I say three, if one counts a possible mistress. Who knew that President Woodrow Wilson was such a ladies' man? Kristie Miller brings alive an important period in American history and helps to set the record straight on the second Mrs Wilson's role when Wilson became incapacitated in office. I particularly enjoyed the back stories of the struggle for civil rights for African Americans and women and the struggle with Congress over the League of Nations. How many biographies have you read lately that offer the (slightly guilty) pleasures of reading a good novel? This one does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms Winston TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was not aware of this book, or the series in which it belongs, until November 2012. Unfortunately, the books are a little hard to come by and, as yet, not available in an e-book format. I was quite taken with this examination of Ellen and Edith, the two wives of Woodrow Wilson. At first, I thought that Ellen might remain a shadowy figure, as she was only first lady for a short period of time, but Ms Miller brought her to life for me. Ellen was an intelligent and very attractive young woman of 22 when she met Woodrow Wilson shortly after a church service where she appeared with her younger brother. Ellen's mother had died recently and she was to "mother" her younger sibling well into his adulthood. That she was a caring woman was apparent to all -- and she ministered to Woodrow as well. It might have been very easy for her to give up her identity to him, but Ellen did not. She had a career as an amature artist who was featured in shows not just because she was the wife of a college president and a public figure, but because she had a real talent. Ms Miller also makes it clear that Ellen and Woodrow were passionately attached to each other, not just on the spiritual level, which one might expect of a courtship and marriage begun in the late Victorian era, but sexually as well. That Woodrow was a passionate man, even though his appearance belied it, has become more evident over the past few decades -- that Ellen was his equal in that regard is more of a surprise. She even tolerated his "romance" with another woman -- it is not ever truly clear to me how far that relationship went, but it was not accepted by his second wife, Edith. Wilson could not have been an been an easy man to be married to -- he seemed to need constant reassurance and coddling by the women in his life.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leon L Czikowsky on January 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Woodrow Wilson was the only President to have two wives while President. Ellen Axson Wilson was First Lady for 18 months before dying. 15 months after Edith's death, Wilson married Edith Bolling Gait.

Wilson told Ellen upfront while dating her that he enjoyed being with other women. Still they married, Wilson became a noted scholar and national speaker. Ellen was very religious. Her faith was shattered when her brother, his wife, and their child drowned when a horse on a carriage was spooked and took their carriage off a ferry. Woodrow tried to revive Ellen's spirits by having her do landscape painting with an impressionist painters artists colony in Old Lyme, Ct.

Wilson's public speaking led some newspapers to suggest Wilson run for President. Wilson was President of Princeton University.

Wilson started a relationship with Mary Peck. He feel in love with her. Ellen went back to Old Lyme and painted as she recognized Woodrow's "eternal love for Mary. Ellen and her daughters stayed at Florence Griswold's boarding house. Ellen studied art from Frank DuMond.

Woodrow ran for Governor of New Jersey. Ellen agreed to support him. Woodrow with to Old Lyme with Ellen and daily carried her stood and easel for her. Woodrow thought wrote almost daily to Mary. He complained the boarding house required the boarding house required both sexes to dine together to minimize embarrassment of the painters having paint on them. Ellen wanted to travel overseas but Woodrow felt Old Lyme "was good enough for him". Woodrow probably wanted to remain close to New Jersey political advisors and to Mary in New York.

Woodrow received the Democratic Convention's nomination for Governor. He ran as a progressive.

Ellen was a capable New Jersey First Lady.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading the book. I think that specific dates of events and dates of the pictures would have been helpful.
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