web site hit counter Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (Signature Series) - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (Signature Series)

Availability: Ready to download

Scholar, reformer, orator, President and peacemaker, Woodrow Wilson was one of the most remarkable political forces in twentieth-century American politics.


Compare

Scholar, reformer, orator, President and peacemaker, Woodrow Wilson was one of the most remarkable political forces in twentieth-century American politics.

30 review for Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (Signature Series)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Woodrow Wilson is the first American President who internationalized the United States on its trajectory to becoming a world power. He was an erudite man who wrote a number of books in what today would be considered political science. He taught at various colleges and universities and ended his teaching career at Princeton University in 1910. After that he entered the world of politics – and to his credit transitioned very well to this more turbulent world. Apparently Woodrow Wilson was a very ch Woodrow Wilson is the first American President who internationalized the United States on its trajectory to becoming a world power. He was an erudite man who wrote a number of books in what today would be considered political science. He taught at various colleges and universities and ended his teaching career at Princeton University in 1910. After that he entered the world of politics – and to his credit transitioned very well to this more turbulent world. Apparently Woodrow Wilson was a very charismatic and persuasive speaker which helped in his ascendancy to the presidency in 1912. This is a long book – over 650 pages (OK I bought it on the cheap at a library book sale). It is well-written and organized – and over two-thirds of the book are on Wilson’s political years. However, given its length, I did find myself trudging at times. I found the author overly fawning on Wilson. He overrates his liberalism. Wilson did nothing for African Americans. He did lower the work week to 40 hours – but little else was done for the working classes. I also feel he was a poor administrator. He spent months in Europe at the end of the war endlessly negotiating for his “Fourteen Points” and the League of Nations. But in the interim, the war had ended, millions of troops were returning home, and his country was undergoing vast changes. Wilson did nothing to ameliorate his home country – and when he returned, continued to speak and campaign endlessly for the League of Nations. He could not get the Republicans onside – in fact made enemies (something he was rather adept at). It must be said that Franklin Roosevelt learnt a lot from the mistakes of Woodrow Wilson – and was able to plan more thoroughly, and successfully, for the United Nations. And Wilson did not know the meaning of the word “delegate” (Franklin Roosevelt did). He should have appointed capable individuals to spend all those months in Europe, he should have made a strategy to cope with the post-war United States. Perhaps Wilson was incapable of “trust” – an aspect the author does not explore. Wilson, while in Europe, seemed incapable of viewing the concerns of others – namely France. Page 554 (in 1919) “You seek to do justice to the Germans [Clemenceau said], do not believe that they will ever forgive us; they only seek the opportunity for revenge.” In less than twenty years this was to prove sadly true. In fact Wilson was out of his depth when dealing with Clemenceau and Lloyd George. And this is not just the fault of Wilson, but the entire range of the Versailles Peace with its redistribution of boundaries (particularly in Central Europe), the peace settlement, and the setting up of the League of Nations was so enormous and grandiose, as to satisfy no one. It was used very successfully as a scapegoat by many leaders – and led to the catastrophic outbreak of the Second World War. And, of course, very sadly the League of Nations was never accepted by the U.S. Wilson became critically ill in September of 1919, during a nationwide campaign to promote the League. After, he was paralyzed and barely able to communicate. The country was left without an effective President until the elections of November 1920. So this book is detailed, and somewhat in rapture of President Wilson.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    Reading about Woodrow Wilson is like reading about a slow-motion train wreck: you can see a disaster coming, and despite there being time to avoid the crash, you know it will still happen. Wilson is, in many respects, a tragic figure, and one of the most tragic when it comes to American presidents. Blinded by his own self-righteousness and obsessive devotion to his cherished League of Nations, he drove himself to the point of collapse, thus wrecking any chance for the League to ever actually fun Reading about Woodrow Wilson is like reading about a slow-motion train wreck: you can see a disaster coming, and despite there being time to avoid the crash, you know it will still happen. Wilson is, in many respects, a tragic figure, and one of the most tragic when it comes to American presidents. Blinded by his own self-righteousness and obsessive devotion to his cherished League of Nations, he drove himself to the point of collapse, thus wrecking any chance for the League to ever actually function. Wilson's failures helped cost the world dearly two decades later. August Heckscher has written a readable, and enjoyable, full biography of Wilson. The narrative moves along nicely, with Heckscher always keeping Wilson's personal life as equally in the forefront as his professional side. Heckscher spends an appropriate amount of time on Wilson's life prior to becoming President, not dwelling too long in any one area. He succeeds in showing Wilson as someone who has a strong inner drive, constantly striving to a higher level. Wilson in these years also comes off as somewhat of an opportunist - willing to go wherever and write whatever he can so as to get money. More readable than John Milton Cooper's scholarly work, and less partisan than A. Scott Berg's take on Wilson, Heckscher still evinces a pro-Wilson sentiment, but it is not blatant like Berg's was. Still, on page 394 he writes of Wilson as "a great president". History is coming to judge otherwise. Personally, I consider Wilson to be highly overrated. While he got some serious legislation passed early on, I found his single-track mind and narrow focus to be off-putting. More importantly, he carried some vestiges of the South with him (Wilson was all over the South: born in VA; grew up in GA, SC and NC; went to law school at UVA; worked briefly in Atlanta) which resulted in segregation being allowed in the Federal workforce. Wilson did nothing for blacks; this is even more noticeable during the race riots in the summer of 1919. Wilson did nothing. Nothing. This is also true of the 1918 flu pandemic. Wilson did nothing, although you would not know that from this book as Heckscher does not talk about it. While I do realize that, at the moment that I am writing, a global pandemic is foremost on many peoples' minds, I still would have thought that, in a full review of Wilson's presidency, it would have warranted some notice from Heckscher. That it did not is disappointing. But as I read along, I realized that this was not the only thing that Heckscher left out or barely mentioned. He does not write about the film Birth of a Nation being screened in Wilson's White House. Is this because it makes Wilson look not just like a segregationist, but like a racist? Other things also were not discussed, or briefly mentioned. Wilson had a close relationship with Jack Hibben while he was president of Princeton. Yet, the first we read of Hibben, is when he and Wilson have a falling out. I found that odd. Heckscher treats his relationship with Colonel Edward House in a similar vein. Wilson's nomination of James McReynolds to the Supreme Court is not mentioned at all. And his nomination of Louis Brandeis, which was a big deal, was dispatched in two paragraphs. While, as mentioned earlier, his treatment of Wilson's pre-presidency is good, and Wilson's brief post-presidency also, topics like these that were either ignored or relegated to minor items, thus weakening the book. Cooper was even more of a Wilson promoter than Heckscher comes across as here, but he also gave a more complete picture of the man. This is a decent Wilson biography, easy to read and constructed fairly well. But all of the small things that are missing or glossed over add up to the book not being a great biography. Still, the sense of tragedy and of what-could-have-been comes across clearly. Heckscher ably shows that Wilson in a strong sense gave his life for a cause that he firmly believed in, only to be destroyed in the process and become embittered as his goal slipped beyond his grasp. Grade: B

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/... “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography” by August Heckscher was published in 1991 and is considered one of the best single-volume biographies of Wilson. During World War II he served in the Office of Strategic Services and later became the chief editorial writer at the New York Herald Tribune. He was special consultant on the arts to the Kennedy Administration and Parks Commissioner under New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Heckscher served as president of the Woodrow http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/... “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography” by August Heckscher was published in 1991 and is considered one of the best single-volume biographies of Wilson. During World War II he served in the Office of Strategic Services and later became the chief editorial writer at the New York Herald Tribune. He was special consultant on the arts to the Kennedy Administration and Parks Commissioner under New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Heckscher served as president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and was a member of the committee which oversaw publication of the Wilson papers. He is also the author of “When LaGuardia Was Mayor: New York’s Legendary Years” and “Alive in the City: Memoir of an ex-Commissioner.” Heckscher died in 1997 at the age of 83. Clearly the product of significant research, “Woodrow Wilson” is lengthy (with 675 pages), comprehensive and detailed. There are few, if any, surprising revelations about Wilson’s presidency or his politics, and Heckscher’s overall evaluation of Wilson does not differ meaningfully from that of most other biographers. What sets this biography apart from others is that while it provides thorough but familiar coverage of Wilson’s presidency, it offers an extraordinarily penetrating analysis of his character and personality. Where many biographers convey a cold and rigid Wilson, Heckscher portrays him as a complex, multifaceted man with wonderful gifts and keen instincts – but also baffling (and occasionally self-destructive) tendencies. The author’s writing style is natural and smooth, exuding a sophisticated elegance which makes this an easy biography to read and to enjoy. He is also adept at introducing new people into the story – dissecting and animating them in an interesting and revealing manner. And unlike some biographies which focus exclusively on the main character, Heckscher ensures that Wilson’s close family and colleagues are thoroughly described as well. The author demonstrates a remarkable degree of insight into Wilson’s time as Princeton’s president, diving into the surprisingly fractious world of campus politics as if he had been there himself. He also provides one of the best discussions of the build-up to World War I (and America’s reluctant involvement) that I’ve seen. But the book’s most poignant moments come at the end as Heckscher examines the last years of the ailing former president’s life. For the most part Heckscher proves objective and well balanced. But he does gloss over or excuse some of Wilson’s shortcomings, such as his attitude toward (and his administration’s treatment of) blacks. And while highlighting many of Wilson’s flaws, the author rarely attempts to analyze Wilson from the point of view of his political adversaries. Instead, Wilson invariably appears noble and idealistic while his enemies are generally portrayed as narrow-minded, mean-spirited and indiscriminately partisan. The first half of the biography (through the mid-point of Wilson’s first term as president) is as good as any presidential biography I’ve read – remarkable given how difficult it can be to vividly reveal someone who seems cold, distant and aloof. But the book’s second half, while extremely informative, becomes somewhat cumbersome during the discussion of World War I and the ensuing peace negotiations. Overall, however, August Heckscher’s “Woodrow Wilson” is an excellent biography; it is comprehensive, engaging and extremely perceptive. The author makes a convincing, if imperfect, case for Wilson as a great statesman and high-minded idealist burdened by petty and unfortunate flaws. For either a casual reader or an academic audience, August Heckscher’s biography of Woodrow Wilson proves outstanding. Overall rating: 4¼ stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Judy Baker

    Woodrow Wilson has been painted as a dour college professor who became president as a result of the huge rift between WH Taft and T Roosevelt, who splintered the Republican Party with the formation of the Bull Moose Party. Hecckscher in his biography, Woodrow Wilson, works hard to change the image. While it was true that Wilson was a college professor and eventually president of Princeton College, he was a political scientist who made the study of politics and administration his forte, and was p Woodrow Wilson has been painted as a dour college professor who became president as a result of the huge rift between WH Taft and T Roosevelt, who splintered the Republican Party with the formation of the Bull Moose Party. Hecckscher in his biography, Woodrow Wilson, works hard to change the image. While it was true that Wilson was a college professor and eventually president of Princeton College, he was a political scientist who made the study of politics and administration his forte, and was probably as well prepared (at least philosophically) to sit in the oval office as any log-splitting lawyer. And while he has been called dour (he was a Presbyterian, after all), he was well-loved by close friends and family as witty, clever, and warm-hearted, and had enough personal charisma to have caught the eye of Mary Peck, with whom he carried on some kind of dalliance while married to Ellen, his first wife. Or perhaps it was just the sun and sand of Bermuda! Born in a defeated South in the home of an ambitious Presbyterian minister, Tommy, as he was known by his family, was destined to be either in the pulpit or the classroom. He slowly worked his way north, teaching at Bryn Mawr and eventually at Johns Hopkins and Princeton, and becoming known by his middle name, Woodrow. (just as an aside, it is during this time he has his first major neurological episode which resulted in the loss of sight in one eye, truly an omen of things to come.) A man always of bold ideas, he lead Princeton as president into a kind of renaissance. Eventually his liberal ramrod unyielding forcefulness that enabled him to break through the staid status quo became his eventual undoing, leaving Princeton after a bitter fight with friends who eventually became foes, a foretaste of the life pattern of his next presidency. Heckscher, truly a fan of Wilson, is quick to point out Wilson's egalitarian vision for Princeton, the hill on which he was martyred, became the style of all of the ivy-covered institutions: Yale, Harvard, Cornell, and yes, eventually Princeton. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Wilson made the move into formal politics, becoming governor of New Jersey. Bettering the New Jersey bosses at their own game rocketed him into the national scene as a liberal progressive Democrat at a time when the country was longing for a change. I honestly think that had the Democratic National Convention taken place weeks before the Republican Convention instead of after it, Roosevelt, who was philosophically closer to Wilson than Taft, might never have thrown his hat into the ring. Elected president in 1912, Wilson successfully enacts his New Freedom plan, limiting government through tariff, business, and banking reform. (Without Wilson, who would have ever heard of Alan Greenspan?). Then the Lusitania was struck, and priorities across the globe were changed. Wilson, the diplomatist of neutrality, staved off American's entrance into World War I, for as long as he could, coining one of his more unfortunate phrases, "too proud to fight", which was truly a red flag to the bull moose Roosevelt! Eventually committed to the Allied cause, Wilson blundered again during his second term campaign, directly equating his re-election with the war effort (not too unlike Lincoln's "Don't change horses midstream", but without Lincoln's homespun humility). According to Heckscher, Wilson felt that he had an almost extra-sensory perception of who the American people were and what the American people wanted, which I find amusing when he was perceived as being cold and distant by those American people themselves! As much as I have a morbid fascination with World War II, World War I has been a bit of a mystery to me. I did not understand how the assassination of one man could throw all of Europe into such a tizzy: all of the nationalism and the alliances, and the tools of war advancing to such a devastating heights. And the making of the tentative peace afterwards even more confusing, and truly ineffective if you consider that all those same nations were at it again 20 years later! Wilson, ever the peacemaker, began well before the war was finished to promote a peace program, his Fourteen Points, trying hard to visualize how this would all end and how to prevent it from happening again. However, it became clear that the Austrian-Hungarian-German forces would not go peacefully. Once the Allies were victorious, Wilson, the first president to leave native soil, found that negotiating a peace to be fractious in itself. France was insistent of curbing Germany's aggression permanently (not necessarily clairvoyant but they had been fighting Germany over the Palatine and Alsace Lorraine fields for centuries and really had borne a good portion of the fighting). Many countries were greedily ready to carve up Europe for their own, all wanted war reparations out of Germany, and Russia's own civil war unsettling them all. Wilson, a part of the Big Four who had to negotiate a peace often at odds with France, then Britain, then Italy, then Japan, then France AND Britain together, finally came home with a League of Nations treaty, tied hand and foot to a League of Nations council, admission to which would commit America to future war disputes without a true congressional declaration. It was during the peace talks that Wilson has another major neurological episode (probably a TIA, a type of mini-stroke), more subtle in its physical presentations perhaps but more insidious in its psychological and behavioral effects. Wilson returns to the US, treaty in hand and ready to slug out its ratification, a very different man than one who left, physically and emotionally exhausted. He was out of touch with what had been happening in his absence, and the Republicans (Henry Cabot Lodge, in particular) were ready for a fight. Congress was not ready to submit their right to declare war to the League (Article X became Wilson's next hill to die upon), and Wilson had become more truculent, a consequence of his TIA. Against Grayson's advice, his personal physician, he undertakes a nation-wide tour to promote the League. Wilson's ethereal "connection with the public" must have been blocked. The effective orator who could connect with masses starts poorly and only slowly gains steam. Already exhausted, he was plagued with headaches and digestive problems, and while out West has a "breakdown". Frankly he has had another TIA and has make his last truly public address as President. The tour is cancelled, Wilson is returned to the White House to "recuperate", and the charade begins! Grayson and Wilson's second wife, Edith, circle the wagons around Wilson, deceiving, I think, both the public and Wilson himself, of his condition. For the next 19 months, until the swearing in of Harding, the country had no functioning president, and the president continues to deteriorate. Someone had suggested that Vice President T Marshall assume the presidency. Edith Wilson refused. (How was that possible, one might ask? Hard to imagine any of this happening 100 years later!) Did Edith run the country? Heckscher does not say so specifically. The vague reports of progress from the White House, the well-staged interviews with senators where Wilson is propped up with pillows, his flaccid left arm hidden, and dimmed lighting that effectively hid his deteriorated condition, were all ploys to keep the status quo. Even as Wilson slowly gained health, he never really functioned as a president. He continued to have more strokes, he never had more than a shuffling slow gait with a cane, continued to have difficulty concentrating, he truly was the shell of the man he had been. Grayson and Edith probably thought that they had his best interests at heart, that they were shielding him from depression, but they actually created a situation where he became a hated man. Strokes change the brain. Stroke victims become irrational, illogical, impulsive. And for a man already known to be somewhat uncompromising, he became more so. Even when moderate Republicans initiated an effort to amend the Treaty in compromise, Wilson came back with an immovable "NO!" And because of Grayson's and Edith's deception, he was denied the sympathy that people feel for someone who has has such a medical setback. Leaving the White House, he becomes imprisoned in his own home, out of touch with people, antagonistic to friends. He actually had intentions of running for president in 1924, that is how deluded he was to his own situation. A very, very sad end to the life of a man who accomplished so very much.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Cornelius

    A longtime active participant in Democratic Party affairs and a one-time presidential appointee, August Heckscher clearly came to this work with a certain sympathy for Woodrow Wilson. Throughout this critical biography, however, he makes a fair assessment of the former president's life. Surprisingly, the part of the study devoted to Wilson's career at Princeton is the most interesting. Not only did Wilson signal the ideals and methodology he would later bring to the White House, but he also prov A longtime active participant in Democratic Party affairs and a one-time presidential appointee, August Heckscher clearly came to this work with a certain sympathy for Woodrow Wilson. Throughout this critical biography, however, he makes a fair assessment of the former president's life. Surprisingly, the part of the study devoted to Wilson's career at Princeton is the most interesting. Not only did Wilson signal the ideals and methodology he would later bring to the White House, but he also proved an adept political infighter who learned his lessons well and was ready to apply them first as the governor of New Jersey and, then, as president of the United States. The most controversial part of the book no doubt is Heckscher's softening of the image of Edith Wilson, Woodrow's second wife. Heckscher provides an understanding of her situation, while acknowledging her fears. insecurities, and what otherwise would be termed paranoia, but dismisses the idea that she governed as the effective US president at this time. The period of Wilson's post-stroke time in the White House and the years immediately thereafter make for sad reading. It is almost a classical tragedy, a man who rose through the gifts of oratory and the intellect struck down and incapacitated, unable to speak, write, or argue. Heckscher had a considerable intellectual life, active in the arts and letters. This work on Wilson was perhaps one of the culminating efforts of his career. And it goes to show what someone with academic gifts can do, unburdened by university politics and free to write as a public intellectual. This is the sort of biographical study that is in short supply these days, sympathetic towards its subject yet realistic and absent of any political tendentiousness.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is an incredibly good biography. It is admiring, but not uncritical. It is brimming with policy-wonk detail, but also with sensitivity for things human. It is thorough, but not boring. The only reason I don't give it five stars is because I try to reserve that for the great works of all time, but I would definitely give this one four and a half stars were it possible. This is an incredibly good biography. It is admiring, but not uncritical. It is brimming with policy-wonk detail, but also with sensitivity for things human. It is thorough, but not boring. The only reason I don't give it five stars is because I try to reserve that for the great works of all time, but I would definitely give this one four and a half stars were it possible.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Canfield

    Woodrow Wilson, the first president from the South in the six decades after the Civil War, is one of the more underappreciated leaders in U.S. history. Even if one is inclined to not think of Mr. Wilson as a great man or an individual who brought productive ideas to the table, the breadth of his accomplishments makes reading a biography of his life an absorbing activity. August Heckscher has produced a thorough portrait of the twenty-eighth president. Given the inclination, making a compelling t Woodrow Wilson, the first president from the South in the six decades after the Civil War, is one of the more underappreciated leaders in U.S. history. Even if one is inclined to not think of Mr. Wilson as a great man or an individual who brought productive ideas to the table, the breadth of his accomplishments makes reading a biography of his life an absorbing activity. August Heckscher has produced a thorough portrait of the twenty-eighth president. Given the inclination, making a compelling tale of his public career should be a cinch for any historian with a modicum of competence. The era his life spanned was one of the most critical times of domestic and worldwide foment in history. Wilson was raised in the South, his father's role as a Presbyterian minister causing the family to bounce around homes in Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas as a youth. These were the years during and immediately after the Civil War, amid grievances toward a North where Wilson would spend all of his adult life. That Wilson became so accomplished in academia-serving on the faculties of Bryn Mawr, Johns Hopkins, and (as both professor and president) at his alma mater Princeton University--makes it interesting to learn that he was unable to even read until the age of nine. He is perhaps, still today, the most accomplished intellectual to have served in the U.S. presidency. The author recounts just how he spring boarded from the presidency of Princeton to the governorship of New Jersey in 1910 to the presidency of the U.S. in a three-way contest between President Taft, former president (and third party contender) Teddy Roosevelt in 1912. The book can be broken down as four sagas in one: 1) Wilson in academia during the late 19th and first decade of the 20th century, a largely happy time aside from some skirmishes with the Princeton leadership 2) Wilson as a reforming governor and reforming first term president, a time of his New Freedom plan of progressive reform being implemented with surprising swiftness 3) Wilson as a military leader during the first half of his second term as president, followed by 4) a sad, final concluding saga of Wilson falling from grace in a failed effort to win a post-World War One peace punctuated by stroke-induced incapacitation during his final year in office. President Wilson was on the forefront of progressive leadership during his time, but he did fall short in one particularly dispiriting respect. When it came to civil rights for African-Americans, the votes he needed from Southern Democrats to pass his social legislation through Congress were deemed too valuable to risk all but certain alienation by insisting on on anti-lynching and pro-black civil rights laws. In this respect, Wilson was held hostage to the prejudices of his time, and it is disappointing to see an otherwise strong leader unwilling to risk political capital on such an important issue. In a biography that is at times fawning, Heckscher at least makes an effort to discuss this shortcoming. The first Congressional session of Wilson's New Jersey governorship and presidential term are the domestic highlights of his time as an executive leader. The establishment of the Federal Reserve system, a federal income tax, and the first steps of what would ultimately become a nationwide eight hour workday were just several of the progressive agenda ideas Wilson managed to get through Congress during his first year in the White House. The intervention to help win World War One is certainly the foreign policy highlight of his career. The irony that Wilson is reelected in 1916 by promising to keep the U.S. out of the European War, only to commit to the Allied cause less than a month after his inauguration, is impossible for readers to miss. The knots he was willing to be tied into to avoid alienating either Great Britain, France, or Germany during his first term are morbidly entertaining to read about. The discussions, disagreements, and misunderstandings with his advisers like Colonel Edward House, Secretary of State (until his resignation over war policy) William Jennings Bryan, then (after Bryan and during the U.S. involvement in the war) Secretary of State Robert Lansing underscore just how play-it-by-ear so much of America's World War One policy was. The degree to which personal preferences and views of the warring countries painted how individuals in the Cabinet felt toward intervention is staggering to consider. It also leaves Wilson looking not so much like a pacifist, but instead someone with convictions willing to exhaust all other options under war became unavoidable. The end of World War One seemed to be just the beginning of Wilson's headaches. His Fourteen Points and desire to see the League of Nations instituted was met with much praise and derision, and the book's author does fantastic justice to just how hard many isolationist senators successfully worked to undermine Wilson's view of a progressive, post-World War One order. The reader is not left with a strong feel for whether Republican opposition to the League of Nations came out of a genuine desire to remain an isolated nation or out of personal animosity toward Wilson and his party. Either way, Wilson's optimism as he meets with victorious leaders in Europe during 1919 slowly turns to anguish as he realizes that, as in his Cabinet, the leaders of countries like Italy, the U.K., and France are also driven by ulterior motives when it comes to dealing with Germany and, to a lesser extent, Bolshevik-rocked Russia. Getting Americans to sign on to the League of Nations proved an impossible task, and odds of its acceptance by an isolationist U.S. Congress were looking bad enough even before Wilson became all but bedridden during his final year in office. After that, with emissaries (including his second wife Edith) handling a lot of the executive business, the fight was all but over without the president able to make a full bore effort. This caused his second term to end on a very dour note, even more so when one considers that many of the things he was warning against, such as being too harsh on Germany and withdrawing from internationalism, ended up playing a role in the breaking out of the Second World War. Despite this bad ending, Wilson is still portrayed as a statesman who did his best to push for what he felt would make the United States a fairer, more prosperous, place to live and do business. This book tells a story chock full of fascinating anecdotes and provides plenty of food for thought when it comes to the role of American government both at home and abroad. Heckscher could have written it with less of a near-reverence for Wilson, but it is nevertheless an important account of an important stretch of time in America's development. -Andrew Canfield Denver, Colorado

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Woodrow Wilson by August Heckscher is one of the better biographies written on the president. It covers not only his presidency but also his time as the president of Princeton. Wilson was one of the most innovate members of academia and took Princeton into a new era that defined modern education as a research and critical thinking through a multi-college approach making up a university. Wilson's time was defined as one of many ideas and poor execution in bringing these ideas to fulfillment. Wils Woodrow Wilson by August Heckscher is one of the better biographies written on the president. It covers not only his presidency but also his time as the president of Princeton. Wilson was one of the most innovate members of academia and took Princeton into a new era that defined modern education as a research and critical thinking through a multi-college approach making up a university. Wilson's time was defined as one of many ideas and poor execution in bringing these ideas to fulfillment. Wilson is shown for his bold initiatives that are still great controversy today. Keeping America out of the war for so long, trade agreements, international security, and the outbreak of the first Red Scare all occurred in his term and each provided a controversy to give Wilson a legacy. One of the most striking failures of his presidency was the lack of inclusion of any members of the opposite party in these ventures. For those looking for a general overview of Wilson's life this is the best place to look. It is thorough without being exhaustive and really shows the successes and failures of the Wilson presidency.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eddy

    August Heckscher's biography of Woodrow Wilson is an incredibly detailed look at the full life and presidency of the man who would ultimately heavily influence America's role on the world's stage throughout the 1900's. The book weaves it's way through Wilson's young adult years, his time as president of Princeton, his ascension to the presidency of the United States, and concludes with his time working to keep America out of World War I - and then in the League of Nations as a condition of endin August Heckscher's biography of Woodrow Wilson is an incredibly detailed look at the full life and presidency of the man who would ultimately heavily influence America's role on the world's stage throughout the 1900's. The book weaves it's way through Wilson's young adult years, his time as president of Princeton, his ascension to the presidency of the United States, and concludes with his time working to keep America out of World War I - and then in the League of Nations as a condition of ending the war. The book's strength is in it's length, offering vivid details and anecdotes throughout all stages of Wilson's life. Unfortunately, though, it is often incredibly light on context, oftentimes assuming the reader is already familiar with many of the events and individuals meeting Wilson. The conclusion of the War, as an example, takes up roughly a fourth of the book. There is an incredibly wealth of information regarding Wilson's deliberations with delegates from nations all over the world while he attempts to create a lasting peace and prevent the outbreak of another world war. So too, do we get great insights into his battles with Congress to allow the US to enter into the agreements required for the treaty that would end the war. In contract, very little is said of the actual war, it's causes or America's role in carrying it out. While these types of details may not pertain directly to the life and experiences of Wilson, it seems a shame and a missed opportunity not to provide even the most general details regarding one of the world's major conflicts, and one that would guide policy in the US for generations to come. All in all, I cannot imagine a better book in terms of the strict subject of Woodrow Wilson's life, but much more could be done to flesh out the world that would mold him, and also how he would come to mold the world around him.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carol Arce

    The media has convinced us that we are living in times of unprecedented division and political partisanship, so reading this biography of Woodrow Wilson was like looking into what the Pulitzer Prize winning author Barbara Tuchman used as the title of one of her histories, "A Distant Mirror." Wilson's battle with Henry Cabot Lodge and the Republicans over the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations was just as fierce, brutal and divisive as any of the political battles The media has convinced us that we are living in times of unprecedented division and political partisanship, so reading this biography of Woodrow Wilson was like looking into what the Pulitzer Prize winning author Barbara Tuchman used as the title of one of her histories, "A Distant Mirror." Wilson's battle with Henry Cabot Lodge and the Republicans over the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations was just as fierce, brutal and divisive as any of the political battles we are witness to today. So when Wilson's massive stroke left him unable to continue to fight, the battle weary country was ready to embrace Herbert Hoover's "return to normalcy." Certainly we see some of that same sort of "battle fatigue" in the country today as we struggle to find some sort of "new normalcy."

  11. 4 out of 5

    James Ruley

    Woodrow Wilson looms over American history as a giant of a president. His ideology and practice deeply impacted the nation for years after he left the office. Yet his story is also peculiar. An academic most of his life, he rose to politics, and subsequently the presidency, late in life. Ironically, he spent most of his time preparing a slate of domestic policy programs, yet he will forever be remembered for his foreign policy aims. This work on Wilson provides a great deep dive into his life an Woodrow Wilson looms over American history as a giant of a president. His ideology and practice deeply impacted the nation for years after he left the office. Yet his story is also peculiar. An academic most of his life, he rose to politics, and subsequently the presidency, late in life. Ironically, he spent most of his time preparing a slate of domestic policy programs, yet he will forever be remembered for his foreign policy aims. This work on Wilson provides a great deep dive into his life and accomplishments. Its greatest weakness, however, is its failure to help us really know the man Wilson, not just the political figure. All in all, a good biography.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charlie S

    Overly academic and can be wordy at times, otherwise a pretty good bio of Wilson.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mel [profile closed]

    Wilson begins the 100 year period that starts with the end of World War I (The Great War) to the present. To know Wilson is to know how this whole period began and took its form. Wilson's biography should be read in conjunction with Paris: 1919. Together, the two books give definition to the world as we know it. Wilson begins the 100 year period that starts with the end of World War I (The Great War) to the present. To know Wilson is to know how this whole period began and took its form. Wilson's biography should be read in conjunction with Paris: 1919. Together, the two books give definition to the world as we know it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Craig

    I worked at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia, and this is one of the most thorough one volume biography on him, and it was one of the books I read to help prepare me for my job.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Basuino

    Has it really been a full century since Woody was President? Apparently - this is a fairly decent biography - I had no idea how incapacitated Wilson was near the end of his terms... Smart man, but he'd not handle it well in the 21st Century, which I guess is true of most... Has it really been a full century since Woody was President? Apparently - this is a fairly decent biography - I had no idea how incapacitated Wilson was near the end of his terms... Smart man, but he'd not handle it well in the 21st Century, which I guess is true of most...

  16. 4 out of 5

    George

    Long and detailed but compelling biography of a fascinating man whose life, in the end, was an epic tragedy. Beautifully written, easy to read despite being nearly 700 pages long.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doug

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathrine

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jake Knoall

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Varone

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Greene

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fred Eisenhut

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

  24. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chip Douglass

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt Walters

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ray

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.