The life story of one of the most important Presidents in American history. Woodrow Wilson seemingly came out of nowhere to be elected President in 1912. But Wilson's many years as a historian, college professor and president of Princeton University made him uniquely qualified for high office.
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A Scott Berg is a careful researcher and, more importantly, a fine writer. He uses previously uncited family letters to paint a gripping portrait of Woodrow Wilson's life. His letters as a young man to his future wife Ellen are remarkably compelling. People thought of Wilson as a cold fish but these letters show a man of compassion, humor and insight.
Berg expertly walks us through Wilson's life: from a Southern PK (preacher's kid) to student to lawyer to college professor. Wilson was a highly regarded lecturer and speaker before entering politics in 1910. He ran for Governor of New Jersey and was elected. He was a progressive and honest Governor who alienated the somewhat seedy bosses who helped elect him.
After his election to the White House, Wilson initiated many progressive reforms: from the Federal Reserve to the FDA, Wilson changed the way we live. The one blot on his record was race. As a Southerner, he did little to advance the cause of Civil Rights. He was, however, neither a racist nor a hater, just a man of his time.
Wilson was re-elected as the man who kept us out of the Great War. That changed in 1917 when he led us into the war. Wilson proclaimed it to be a war to make the world safe for democracy. After the Allies won the war, Wilson was a hero who toured Europe to great acclaim. The Treaty of Versailles ended all that.
Wilson's dream was for the US to join the league of nations. That did not happen because he refused to compromise with his GOP foes. On a speaking tour, the President had a stroke and spent the rest of his time in office disabled.
After leaving the White House, like all former Presidents, his popularity soared and he is widely regarded as one of our greatest Presidents.
Best part of story, including ending:
Wilson was an honest and principled man.
Best scene in story:
The description of Wilson's tour of Europe after victory.
Opinion about the main character:
Honorable and intelligent.