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Wilson Hardcover – September 10, 2013
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*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
Praise for Wilson
“A brilliant biography that still resonates in Washington today.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin
“Telling the story of [Wilson’s] life, his visionary ideas and his legacy has occupied four generations of American historians. But until now, no one has gotten him quite right. Not until A. Scott Berg, with his landmark biography “Wilson.” In a meticulously researched and generously written new biography, we have an appraisal of the 28th president that is neither diminishing nor hagiographic. Rather, Berg, one of the pre-eminent biographers of our time, has placed Wilson in his correct place in our nation’s history. In many ways, he accomplishes for Wilson what David McCullough’s biographies of Harry Truman and John Adams did for their subjects: It secures Wilson’s place among the top tier of American presidents.”—Louisville Courier-Journal
“A. Scott Berg’s new 800-page biography, Wilson (**** out of four), spares no detail. It takes a certain quixotic passion to give us Wilson…with such thorough fact-sifting that we emerge, stunned…Wilson is [Berg’s] most ambitious if least sexy undertaking, scripturally dense, a codex that richly explains Wilson’s policy revolution while establishing the man’s full humanity, his flaws and failings…Berg mines the record in all its complexity and tragedy.” –USA Today, 4 star review
“Magesterial . . . at once intimate, sweeping and authoritative.”--Los Angeles Times
“Breathtaking…Berg gives Wilson a fresh look, restoring him to the place he occupied – the idealist in politics – before recent biographers wrote him off…Now, thanks to Berg, we know a more fully rounded Wilson.” –Boston Globe
“Mr. Berg is a terrific researcher, and ‘Wilson’ exhumes hundreds of fresh quotes and details...A very good work of history.” –Wall Street Journal
“Berg tells the story of Wilson, the man, very well indeed…he has a novelist’s eye for the striking detail, and a vivid prose style.” –New York Times Book Review
“A splendid look at [Wilson’s] life and legacy…In this majestic biography, [Berg] succeeds in capturing Wilson the man as well as Wilson the politician…With the sweep of his narrative, the wealth of his detail, the clarity of his prose and the breadth of his vision, Berg has produced an insightful and intimate work that is likely to stand as the definitive biography of one of the nation’s most consequential leaders.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Wilson remains unique among American presidents and A. Scott Berg has written a superb biography of him. It provides an account of Wilson's life and presidency rich in detail and moving in its finer moments of narrative.”—The Australian
“For readers coming to Wilson for the first time, Mr. Berg’s biography tells the story of this singular man thoroughly.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Berg is a masterful biographer…[Wilson is] absorbing.” –Miami Herald
“Marvelously detailed.” –Washingtonian
“A work of spectacular artistry and objective workmanship…should be required reading for any course of study that examines American history after 1865…Berg’s illumination of the president’s humanity is riveting…[A] treasure” –Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
“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.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
“Succeeds magnificently in elucidating Woodrow Wilson the man. Quietly, methodically, intuitively, the author examines almost every aspect of his subject’s life, from the religious to the sexual and almost everything in between. His account…is nuanced and revealing.” – The Washington News
“The same penetrating illumination, meaningful insight and readable prose that Berg brought to his biography of Charles Lindbergh is on display throughout Wilson, and readers can walk away with a profound and unique perspective on the man, offered by one of our most gifted biographers.” – Deseret News
“No previous biographer has told [Wilson’s] story so well…Unlike his scholarly predecessors, [Berg] actually convinces you to like the man…[An] always graceful portrait.”– The Daily Beast
“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
“[Berg] renders Wilson with an astute, sensitive understanding of the man and his presidency. Berg’s research is deep and thorough.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Accomplished biographer Berg emphasizes the extraordinary talents of this unlikely president in an impressive, nearly hagiographic account . . . Readable, authoritative and, most usefully, inspiring.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A thorough, entertaining account of our 28th president . . . [an] excellent biography.”—Library Journal (starred review)
Rraise for A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh
“Berg’s book is an extraordinary achievement. In his authoritative chronicle, Berg has allowed the inconsistencies, nuances, and tribulations of Lindbergh’s life to speak for themselves without judgment or speculation. In doing so, he has given us the definitive account of a dramatic and disturbing American story.”--Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Charles Lindbergh is the ultimate American life, and Berg’s new biography is the ultimate exploration of that life. In an astonishing biography of a man who personified the future tense, no sentence is overwritten, no passage overwrought.”--Boston Sunday Globe
“Berg’s monumental new biography is a richly detailed and deeply nuanced examination of a historic life in all its complexity. This is fall’s must-read biography.”--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Berg turns that historic flight into a cogent and thoroughly gripping account that conveys all the magic, danger and courage of the young pilot’s achievement. A similar narrative prowess informs Berg’s account of the 1932 kidnapping of Lindbergh’s infant son and the subsequent trial of Hauptmann – an account that reads, at once, as a harrowing thriller and a sobering study in the unreckoned consequences of fame.”--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A superb biography.”--Time Magazine
“The most outstanding piece of nonfiction that I have read this year. Berg does a spectacular job of establishing why Lindbergh proves such a powerful icon for the 20th century. A substantial piece of history that illuminates an important figure in world history. It’s the kind of book that took almost a decade to create. And it’s worth it.”--USA Today
“Berg brings us about as close as I suspect we will ever get to the man himself.”--The New York Times Book Review
Top customer reviews
From the point of view of American History he was one of the most effective and thoughtful of the Progressives of the era, and his stamp on the America we live in today is amazing. That fact the Berg portrays Wilson with all his faults and with all his demons makes the book all the better. This is truly a gem.
Wilson first POTUS since John Adams to personally address Congress and travel out of the country for long period time and act as a world leader. Last president to personally compose all his speeches and whose admninistration promoted segregration.
Wislon invented the Modern Presidency and first POTUS to believe in Big Government. He is a political ancestor of Obama. In 1912 Wilson said, "What I am interested in is law that will give the little man a chance to show these fellows that he has the brains enough to compete with them..." (p.241) Rhetoric which is similiar to Obama's rhotoric in his 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
The author does a good job to bring out interesting facts in Wilson's life. I loved the line from the book that everything in Wilson's life is arguable starting with date of birth. The author noted Victor Flemeing of Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz fame chronicled Wilson trip to negotiate the Peace Treaty after WWI. His Attorney General hiring J. Edgar Hoover and the role of Herbert Hoover in releif of Europe, the first Red Scare of the 20th century and Edith Wilson's role during the Preisdent incapcity from 1919-1921 plus the roles of House, Tumulty, Lodge and Dr. Grayson.
The author strains to be favorable to Wilson minimizing the adverse effects of big government, segregration and racial predjudice, his refusal to resign, personal stubborness, but in all a complete but uncritical biography of an important POTUS.
He hung onto office for a year after suffering a debilitating stroke which was irresponsible. However an argument may be made that things would not have been better had he let his veep, a man of limited abilities, takeover. The book also documents his medical history in which he long had symptoms of impending strokes which would have been recognized and treated effectively with today's medical knowledge.
The book also gives a good historical background in corporate vs. worker conflicts, Republican vs. Democratic politics, race relations and other important social aspects of the USA in that time period. His interesting academic career, presidency of Princeton University, boyhood in the post Civil War South as a preacher's son, governorship of New Jersey are also well covered in the book. I highly recommend it.