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Herbert Hoover : a biography Unknown Binding – January 1, 1964
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Now, granted, Hoover was unfairly tarred with the responsibility for many of the terrible things that happened "on his watch", things that can in no way be attributed to any action of his, and which he couldn't possibly have prevented. Writing in 1964, Lyons, an admitted Hoover supporter and admirer, was attempting to counter years of unfair negative image, and I'll admit that it's interesting to hear the other side. But even he admits that he overdoes it; in his final subchapter, he says as much:
"It is altogether likely that in these pages I have been betrayed by ardor into overstatement...(r)eading reams of unconscionable spite aimed at Hoover...one is driven to compensatory bias in his favor."
Understandable, and if all you've ever heard of Hoover is the negatives, it might be worth reading this book for a counterweight. But if you do, be aware that that is what it is: a counterweight to negative bias. It is most assuredly NOT a balanced, evenhanded historical document. Which is a shame, because it's hard enough to find biographies of Hoover that it would be nice if this one were more worthwhile. It reads like the biographies written for young people of our founding fathers, in which Washington, or Franklin, or some other such historical character, is portrayed as a larger-than-life, perfect hero, the kind of biographies that lose their appeal once one is over the age of ten or so.
I understand that biographers often admire their subjects, but Lyons goes beyond admiration into straight worship. Herbert Hoover, in his biography, is a man without flaws and probably the greatest man who ever lived. This bias is evident on almost every page and makes for bad writing.
Herbert Hoover may be underrated in history, or have a worse reputation than he deserves, but he is not as great as Lyons portrays him. By deifying Hoover, Lyons actually comes off somewhat like a defense lawyer trying to canonize a client. Throught the book, Lyons distorts the truth and avoids certain facts if they could possibly show Hoover in an unfavorable light.
In addition to bad writing, this book doesn't even contain an index and the few photos are without captions or context. I've read many historical biographies before, and this is one of the worst. If you are interested in Herbert Hoover, skip this book; they may be hard-to-find, but there are more objective books out there.