The 'Era of Big Government'—and the idea that the national government ought to be adequate to any task the people ask of it—did not creep up on America unaware. It was a deliberate project, grounded in a critique of the original Constitution, bolstered by a new political science, and guided by a thorough-going confidence in historical progress. With clarity, conviction, and plenty of evidence, R. J. Pestritto shows that, from his early days as a political scientist through his election to the presidency, Woodrow Wilson was consistently a central figure in the development of Progressivism and so of the Liberalism that dominated twentieth-century American public policy and political life. Though Wilson was no philosopher-king, Pestritto explains that our doctor-of-philosophy-president changed how we think about democracy and about America, in ways that ought to be reappraised but have yet to be undone. (James R. Stoner, Jr., Louisiana State University)
Ronald Pestritto’s book is the deepest and most comprehensive treatment to date of Woodrow Wilson’s political thought. Pestritto has produced a masterful study of the origins of Wilson’s theoretical views, and he has carefully shown the connections between those views and Wilson’s positions on major constitutional and institutional questions. All interested in American political thought will appreciate this important work. (James Ceaser, University of Virginia)
In his brilliant new book, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism
, Ronald Pestritto painstakingly documents Wilson's debt to Hegel. (Paul Mirengoff and Scott Johnson The Daily Standard
Pestritto offers an interesting read, with Wilson as a parallel to contemporary end of history commentary. Recommended. (CHOICE
In a work that cuts against much of the existing scholarship on Wilson, Pestritto shows that Wilson held coherent and consistent political principles throughout his life, and that these principles put Wilson at the heart of the Progressive movement. Pestritto's case relies on an impressive and meticulous study of Wilson's own words—speeches and writings taken from every stage of Wilson's life—which makes this book all the more persuasive. (John Marini, University of Nevada, Reno)Ronald J. Pestrito’s book is an in-depth, methodical analysis of Wilson’s political philosophy. This dense, but relatively short 7 chapter volume is opened by placing Wilson in context with historical thinking and the founding of America. In the introduction, Pestrito lays out the foundation for the book. He contrasts the fundamental difference between Wilson’s political philosophy and that of the Founders. This difference stems from the framers’ core belief in inalienable, trans-historical truth and Wilson’s belief in historicism and the adapted tenets of German philosophers, notably Hegel.
(What Would the Founders Think?
About the Author
Ronald J. Pestritto is Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution at Hillsdale College and a research fellow at the Claremont Institute.