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Woodrow Wilson Hardcover – June 1, 2003
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"The Black Presidency"
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Top Customer Reviews
Brands' biography of Woodrow Wilson fits in this pattern. The book is an easy and enjoyable read. The scholarship is solid (I enjoyed reading the short but striking comments for each of the books mentioned in the "selected bibliography"). Occasionally, Brands is even eloquent as when he describes the effect on Wilson of the death of his first wife.
Nevertheless, as with every other book of Brands I've read, "Woodrow Wilson" never soars to become a great work. The reason eludes me. Brands seems to have all the gifts to write a memorable history or biography, but his work remains a little too flat and it fades too quickly from the reader's mind. He does not break out of this mold with "Woodrow Wilson".
As a whole - the life of Wilson is fascinating - a great turning point in the life of "liberals" (While Wilson would certainly not be considered a "liberal" by today's standards). Wilson implemented the 8 hour work day, the FTC, and stiffened anti-trust laws.... not to mention a monstrous epidemnic of the flu... and oh yeah.... World War I. Unfortunately - most of these issues are just briefly touched on (The flu epidemic was not even mentioned).
As a whole - I found this to be a fair brief glimpse into the life of Wilson. However, I would have love to read one of Brand's standard 400 pagers on the life of Wilson.
This biography, another of those brief looks at presidents in "The American Presidents" series, does its job well. While I agree with other reviewers that this is such a brief volume that it glosses over much of Wilson's career, the series is what it is. And I think it somewhat unfair to criticize the book for working within the parameters imposed upon it.
That said, this is a capable biography. I think a little more information about his early career, his life as an academic, an academic administrator, and governor may be covered too briefly even for this series. But that is not atypical.
The book does give a sense of his persona--aloofness, stubbornness, rigidity, certitude, erudition, persuasive ability--and how this helped him succeed, but also could lead him to take stands that hurt his cause.
The volume lays out the accomplishments with which he is associated, advancing the progressive agenda, enunciating a political perspective ("The New Freedom"), and the like. It also addresses his foreign policy--from the not terribly successful Mexican adventure to his leadership of the country in World War I to his efforts to transform global governance after the war (note his 14 points and his effort to establish a meaningful "League of Nations").
He ran into political opposition with the League.Read more ›
An early sign of Wilson's concreteness appeared during his presidency of Princeton University. There was a dispute as to whether the graduate school should be located on the main campus or at another site. Wilson, a proponent of locating it on campus refused to negotiate a compromise and the project was stalled.
Wilson was a Virginian and his racial attitudes were that of the Jim Crow South. However, being president of Princeton established his credentials as a New Jersey resident and Democratic party leaders put him up for governor of that state. He was elected and he showed remarkable independence as he proposed reforms that disappointed the party leaders and led them to consider him to be an ingrate. Later, when he was elected President of the United States, he continued his reform path in domestic matters.
What defined his presidency was World War I and its aftermath. After the war, Wilson traveled to Europe to negotiate the peace treaty. On a tour of Europe, he was cheered wildly whereever he went. He was a genuine hero.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine biography, by a very fluent author, on a fascinating subject! I much appreciate the indepth knowledge I know have of Woodrow Wilson; a man way ahead of the rest of Humanity... Read morePublished 7 days ago by John
This book is great if you want to know more on Wilson’s foreign policy and league of nations during his presidency and less about his domestic policies and such. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brent Mangin
H.W.Brands has the capacity to write an insightful and interesting book. This effort contains a few pages of impressive work; most fall far short of what he can do. Read morePublished 5 months ago by B. Hedrick
For a brief biography, this offering has all of the essential events that were part of Wilson's life. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Timothy J Martin
First, I would not recommend this book if one wishes to learn even a sketch of Wilson's life and/or presidency. So much of what he accomplished is not mentioned at all. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Stinson E. Humphrey
The author did a pretty good job of stating what Wilson did and did not do, however, his personal opinion was missing. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dick Stauffer