From Publishers Weekly
The Holocaust, the gulags, the Cold War and a death toll exceeding 61,911,000 can all be laid at Wilson's doorstep, contends this sophomoric work in isolationist historiography. Powell, a Cato Institute fellow and author of FDR's Folly, argues that Wilson's intervention in WWI enabled the Allies to defeat Germany and impose a punitive peace settlement that made Germans bitter and antidemocratic, facilitated Hitler's rise, etc. Extending—indeed, almost parodying—Niall Ferguson's contrarian arguments from The Pity of War, he insists that a victorious German Empire would have subsided under its own weight, with Hitler and Stalin remaining unknown malcontents. Powell rehashes his arguments at inordinate length to associate Wilson's policies with subsequent Nazi and Soviet atrocities. When not flaying Wilson, Powell rides Cato's hobbyhorse of libertarian doctrine, sprinkling his chronicle of totalitarian horrors with prim sermons on free trade and laissez-faire economics; the Bolsheviks are thus scolded for their opposition to "consumers freely voting with their money, deciding which quantities, qualities, brands, styles, colors, prices, and so on that they preferred." Powell scores some points criticizing the flimsiness of Wilson's pretexts for intervention. But in using the unforeseen consequences of Wilson's actions as a brief for isolationism, he ends up blaming the 20th-century time line on one man. The result is a tendentious and heavy-handed distortion of history. (Apr.)
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“That government intervention can have unintended consequences is nowhere more true than in foreign policy. Wilson’s War brings the lesson home in a way Americans today can ill afford to ignore. Read this absorbing and critically important book.” —Thomas E. Woods Jr., author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
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“Jim Powell makes a persuasive case against Woodrow Wilson. But I disagree with Jim. During the latter part of his second term Wilson was nearly comatose, thereby making him the perfect progressive interventionist politician, in my opinion.” —P. J. O’Rourke, author of Peace Kills and Parliament of Whores
“Wilson’s War makes a compelling case that Woodrow Wilson was America’s worst president and an unmitigated disaster for the world. In a learned exposition of the Law of Unintended Consequences, Jim Powell shows how U.S. intervention into World War I strengthened the hand of Soviet Communism and led directly to the rise of Hitler and World War II. Wilson’s War exposes how America’s court historians have misled the public for generations.” —Thomas J. DiLorenzo, author of The Real Lincoln and How Capitalism Saved America
“Wilson’s War is a highly controversial interpretation of twentieth-century political history, which asserts that its worst evils—Communism and Nazism—were unintended consequences of President Wilson’s decision to enter World War I on the Allied side.” —Richard Pipes, Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, Harvard University
Praise for FDR's Folly and The Triumph of Liberty
“Thoroughly documented, relying on an impressive variety of popular and academic literature, both contemporary and historical.” —Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate
“I found Jim Powell’s book fascinating. I think he has written an important story, one that definitely needs telling.” —Thomas Fleming, author of The New Dealers’ War and Liberty!
“Jim Powell is a man of great energy, determination, obstinacy, and courage, and all these qualities have gone into his work.” —Paul Johnson, author of A History of the American People and Modern Times