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Wilson Paperback – September 2, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425270068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425270066
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* His name is customarily listed in the category of “great” when historians rank the U.S. presidents. Woodrow Wilson was, it will be recalled, chief executive during WWI. He kept the U.S. out of war in his first term, but in his second, he propelled the country into a conflict that had gone global. Berg, author of such highly acclaimed biographies as Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (1978) and Lindbergh (1998), renders Wilson with an astute, sensitive understanding of the man and his presidency. Berg’s research is deep and thorough and—important for a wide readership—comfortably couched in a graceful, smooth presentation. Wilson was unique among presidents in his rise through academe, his prepresidential résumé including a professorship at and then the presidency of Princeton. His only real political connection before entering the White House was a brief tenure as governor of New Jersey. In the highly dramatic presidential election of 1912, Wilson defeated the incumbent, President Taft, and a third-party candidate, past president Teddy Roosevelt. The Allied success in WWI prompted Wilson to travel to Europe for the peace conference; the first sitting president to leave the country, he was determined to see that a peace treaty would include a charter for a League of Nations. But the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty, the U.S. never joined the league, and Wilson’s heart and body were broken. With a year left in his second term, he suffered a stroke and spent the last months of his presidency in seclusion, with his wife, Edith, effectively running the executive office behind closed White House doors. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national author tour, radio interviews, and an extensive advertising campaign support the publication of one of the major biographies of the season. --Brad Hooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for A. Scott Berg’s Wilson

“[A] breathtaking biography.”—The Boston Globe

“A brilliant biography that still resonates in America today.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin

“Magisterial . . . At once intimate, sweeping, and authoritative.”—Los Angeles Times

“Berg, an elegant, prizewinning biographer whose fluent prose and honest sense of majesty have much in common with Wilson’s own writing, is especially well-suited to his subject.”—The New Yorker

“With the prescience that all truly great biographers possess, Berg discovered in Woodrow Wilson a figure who would understand Washington’s current state of affairs.”—Vanity Fair

“Mr. Berg reminds us of Wilson’s wit. . . . And he reminds us of Wilson’s tragedy. . . . A very good work of history.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Mr. Berg’s Wilson succeeds magnificently . . . It is no mean biographical achievement to have revealed Wilson the man with such delicacy and empathy.”—The Washington Times

“The most personal and penetrating biography written about the twenty-eighth president.”—New York Daily News

“[A] landmark biography.”—Louisville Courier-Journal

“[A] majestic biography . . . Insightful and intimate.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“By far the best single study of Wilson’s life and times . . . Berg’s study should remain the standard biography of this tragic figure for a long time.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Should be required reading . . . Berg’s illumination of the president’s humanity is riveting.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“[A] masterly portrait.”—Simon Winchester, The Wall Street Journal holiday gift guide

“An astonishing tale, narrated with moving efficiency and precision by Scott Berg.”—Robert McCrum, The Guardian (UK)

“Penetrating . . . readers can walk away with a profound and unique perspective on the man, offered by one of our most gifted biographers.”—Deseret News

“It has taken nearly a century for someone with Berg’s own, somewhat Wilsonian drive to take the full measure of this singular president whose soul echoes, fitfully, in the professorial aura and singularity of Barack Obama.”—USA Today

“Berg is a masterful biographer; his books on Charles Lindbergh, Samuel Goldwyn, and Max Perkins have received well-deserved plaudits and prizes. Wilson is a comparably rewarding reading experience. . . . An absorbing look at a formative period in American history and a magnanimous appraisal of an uncommon leader whose controversial idealism resounds to this day.”—The Miami Herald

“No previous biographer has told [Wilson’s] story so well.”—The Daily Beast

“Exhaustively researched and wonderfully written. . . . This vivid portrait of Wilson and America has much to offer readers who understand that the world and our nation are still confronting many of the issues that Wilson faced in the White House a century ago.”—Bookreporter.com

“Berg’s research is deep and thorough.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Readable, authoritative, and, most usefully, inspiring.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[An] excellent biography.”—Library Journal (starred review)

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Customer Reviews

Extremely well researched book, Very will written and easy to read.
James Cobey
What Mr. Berg did or did not believe about Woodrow Wilson or anything else was a constant question while reading the book.
He was a man of great ideas but had many shortcomings to many things including human equality!
Dale S. Clifton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

304 of 345 people found the following review helpful By chefdevergue VINE VOICE on August 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is obvious from the opening paragraph that Scott Berg holds Woodrow Wilson in high esteem. However, it also becomes apparent that he is quite uncomfortable with the more unsavory aspects of his subject. Another reviewer observed that Berg makes a very conscious decision to avoid making editorial commentary whenever possible, and contrasts this with Jean Edward Smith's willingness to give his biographical subjects a good working over (his recent Eisenhower biography being a very good example). By avoiding (for the most part) any actual analysis of Wilson and his policies, Berg is able to allow the narrative, enhanced by the details he selectively puts forward, to guide the reader to his desired conclusion.

In all fairness, I am not a fan of Wilson, and so am not predisposed to respond well to a favorable biography in any case. But my problem with Berg is that he doesn't even allow a true debate about Wilson to enter the arena. There are certain aspects of Wilson's personality, particularly his opinions on race relations, which are so unavoidable that even Berg must address them, but still it feels as though he is continually pulling his punches and putting the best spin on what is a considerably unappetizing legacy. The "everyone was a racist" and "others were even worse than Wilson" comments (my paraphrasing) become extraordinarily tiresome after a certain point. It is almost as though Berg would like the whole race issue simply to go away, so that he doesn't have to write about it.

And there are plenty of things which Berg doesn't write about, because he can get away with it.
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102 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A. Scott Berg has written a biography of the 28th President of the United States that Woodrow Wilson himself might have approved of. What you think that says about its quality will depend on your ideas about biography, and about Wilson himself. I wasn't a fan to begin with, and am much less of one having finished the book. But my problem with Berg's work is not that he clearly thinks a great deal of his subject; most biographers do. The trouble is that, despite his breathless admiration for Wilson's intellect, Berg has no evident interest in doing any thinking of his own. Uninterested in whether Wilson's individual decisions were sensible or coherent with his ideals, he's happy to present Wilson as the man presented himself: driven solely by a rational, intellectual sense of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The result is an eminently readable biography, with a solid sense of pace and a fine balance among historical background, quotation, and narrative detail, that has nothing meaningful to say about its subject. Its flow as a story and its sense of the tragic arc of Wilson's personal life mean that it's not entirely without value. Readers unfamiliar with Wilson's life and looking for a hefty but accessible overview should pick it up. But if you think of biography as something more than artful arrangement of facts, WILSON is sorely lacking.

One gets the sense that Berg wants readers to draw parallels between Wilson's time and the present day-- for example, between Wilson, perceived as an intellectual, beloved by liberals for his rhetorical gifts, loathed as a socialist by obstructive conservatives, and Barack Obama, perceived, beloved, and loathed on the same terms. But Berg disrupts his own presentation here.
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97 of 115 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on June 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Few presidents have experienced a tenure as momentous as that of Woodrow Wilson. Taking office as the chief executive of a prosperous but somnolent nation, Wilson championed measures that transformed the national economy and the role of the federal government within it, then dealt with international conflicts from which the United States emerged as a world power. In his biography of Wilson, A. Scott Berg seeks understand the man behind such events, giving his readers a sense of who Wilson was and how he shaped the events of such a pivotal point in American history.

Few writers today can match Berg's abilities as a biographer, as readers of his previous works on Samuel Goldwyn, Charles Lindbergh, and Katherine Hepburn can attest. This book demonstrates his skills to full effect; the narrative is lucid, perceptive, and engages the reader. Most of it is focused on his two terms as president, with his long pre-presidential years as an academic and governor occupying only a little more than a third of the book. Yet while Berg provides a good narrative of Wilson's life and career, his examination of the broader historical context is lacking. Here the book suffers by comparison with John Milton Cooper's Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, which offered an insightful analysis of Wilson's life within the context of the larger movements and events of his times. As a result, while people seeking a readable account of Wilson's life will find much to enjoy in Berg's book, anyone seeking a deeper understanding of his significance to American and world history would be better served by turning to Cooper's biography instead.
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