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Coolidge | [Amity Shlaes]

Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge, president from 1923 to 1929, never rated highly in polls, and history has remembered the decade in which he served as an extravagant period predating the Great Depression. Now Amity Shlaes provides a fresh look at the 1920s and its elusive president, showing that the mid-1920s was in fact a triumphant period that established our modern way of life: The nation electrified, Americans drove their first cars, and the federal deficit was replaced with a surplus.
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Publisher's Summary

Calvin Coolidge, president from 1923 to 1929, never rated highly in polls, and history has remembered the decade in which he served as an extravagant period predating the Great Depression. Now Amity Shlaes provides a fresh look at the 1920s and its elusive president, showing that the mid-1920s was in fact a triumphant period that established our modern way of life: The nation electrified, Americans drove their first cars, and the federal deficit was replaced with a surplus.

Coolidge is an eye-opening biography of the little-known president behind that era of remarkable growth and national optimism. Coolidge's trademark discipline and composure, Shlaes reveals, represented not weakness but strength, and he proved unafraid to take on the divisive issues of this crucial period: reining in public-sector unions, unrelentingly curtailing spending, and rejecting funding for new interest groups. He reduced the federal budget even as the economy grew, wages rose, taxes fell, and unemployment dropped.

In this magisterial biography, Amity Shlaes captures the remarkable story of Calvin Coolidge and the decade of extraordinary prosperity that grew from his leadership.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Amity Shlaes (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

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  •  
    Douglas anaheim hills, CA, United States 10-19-13
    Douglas anaheim hills, CA, United States 10-19-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Still Waters Run Deep"
    What made the experience of listening to Coolidge the most enjoyable?

    I like the insight this book gave into this rather unknown President. His personality was soft spoken and a man of few words. The book shows these traits worked for Coolidge because it was who he was and they were a reflection of his true personality. In an age of politics were rhetoric is perceived as the key to success, this president was comfortable in his own frugal, quite personality. He also had many successes including balancing the budget and he was a pure economist so he cut, cut, cut national spending. He was certainly also a pure Republican whether that is good bad or otherwise. It was interesting how he was so cost conscious that he even cut the costs of running the actual White House in terms of expenses for food, staff and entertainment. Interestingly he chose not to run for a second term which seems to be because of the stress of the job. He loved good Cuban cigars but I am sure he would probably never have spent the money on them unless they were given to him. He was a devoted husband and father and was without political controversy. Quietly refreshing.


    What other book might you compare Coolidge to and why?

    I suppose the closest comparison would be "Wilson" but I did like Wilson better. It is not near as good as John McCullough's Adams but that is not a reflection on the author or narrator as much as it is on the subject since Adams was such a powerful and monumental person in time.


    Have you listened to any of Terence Aselford’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No first time that I can recall.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction but it was insightful, interesting and I was glad I purchased the book.


    Any additional comments?

    If you enjoy biographies, especially political biographies this is a good book. For example, there are multiple books on Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy etc. but this is sort of refreshing because it is about a president who only ran for one term and is not all that well known in terms of his personality and accomplishments. I will listen to the book again sometime down the road.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William G. Stuart Massachusetts, USA 07-10-13
    William G. Stuart Massachusetts, USA 07-10-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Detailed Look @ an Underappreciated Prez"
    Would you listen to Coolidge again? Why?

    This is a must-listen if you want to understand America in the era between 1870 and the early 1930s - rural New England agrarian life, college in that era, the simplicity of transportation, politics, the rise of labor unions, immigration controversy, back-room politicking, the growth of means of communication and flight and the pressures of the presidency. I listened intently - even increasing the speed slightly to absorb the material more quickly - and probably will relisten in a year or two to reinforce the information.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author is a master storyteller. She brings the reader into Coolidge's mind as he faces the challenges of a politician - state legislator, state senator, governor, VP and president - during the first three decades of the 20th century. We understand why he stood up against the striking Boston Police Department and the undercurrent of radicalism in union activity, we appreciate why he made the political moves that he made when he made them and we appreciate the challenges that he faced as president.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The memories that I'll retain most are the descriptions of the multiple meetings between President Coolidge and General Lord, as they pore over the budget, eliminating trivial items and finding less costly alternatives that save a million dollars here or $50,000 there. Coolidge respected the people's money and saw himself as its steward in a way that no modern politician of either party emulates. Today, politicians of both parties throw around a hundred billion dollars like it's money falling from heaven. Coolidge tossed quarters like they were manhole covers.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I appreciated the description of the strain that the presidency and personal losses (the Colonel, Calvin Jr.) placed on the Coolidge marraige, and how the President tried to repair it in the later stages of his term, when the strain was greatest. The strain appears to have repaired itself fairly quickly after the weight of the presidency - the President's obligations and time commitments, which prevented his participation in many activities, including John's graduations - were lifted and the couple returned to Northampton.


    Any additional comments?

    High school and college students rarely learn much history between the end of the War of Northern Aggression and the beginning of the Second World War. I'm making a conscious effort (aided largely by audible.com) to learn more about this era - from "The President is a Sick Man" to "The Destiny of the Republic" and "The President and the Assassin" - and soon "The Bully Pulpit" or "The River of Doubt." These biographies all deliver an excellent description of the United States during my great-great-grandfather's lifetime.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory M. Kreiger SADDLEBROOKE, AZ United States 06-07-13
    Gregory M. Kreiger SADDLEBROOKE, AZ United States 06-07-13 Member Since 2013

    Runner

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    "EXCEPTIONAL BOOK"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing!


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I am currently listening to John Adams.


    How could the performance have been better?

    This was my first audio book using Audible. Once I got the hang of everything, the performance was great.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was shocked how little Coolidge was addressed in the years of American history classes I attended. This book gave context to many political arguments still existing today.


    Any additional comments?

    I probably would not have read this book because of its length. The audio format gave me the opportunity to enjoy a piece of history while painting the inside of my garage.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Tobin 04-14-13
    T. Tobin 04-14-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Easter Egg?"

    Has anyone else noticed that in Chapter 6 with an Hour and 50 minutes left in the chapter, that there is a reference to the "Cameras of Fox News" rolling? Was this a joke played by the Narrator?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA, United States 03-21-13
    Ronald SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA, United States 03-21-13 Listener Since 2006
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    "History"
    Would you listen to Coolidge again? Why?

    Yes, I would. The narrator and story are very good, and the book are not
    too long.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Coolidge?

    The death of Harding, and the reactions of the country and of Coolidges'
    family are moving.


    What does Terence Aselford bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The true meaning of each and every sentence. His inflexion is very important
    to the story.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    No

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Ruther Glen, VA, United States 03-16-13
    James Ruther Glen, VA, United States 03-16-13 Member Since 2006

    I love history and enjoy reading different books about the past. I like to joke that I have read many books about the outcome at Gettysburg, but no matter how many I read the outcome remains the same! I do find it interesting and fascinating to get different takes and outlooks on the same events.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Coolidge - As Good Now as He Was Then- Not So Good"
    Would you try another book from Amity Shlaes and/or Terence Aselford?

    Not by Amity Shlaes. Terence Aselford was adequate.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Amity Shlaes again?

    No.


    What didn’t you like about Terence Aselford’s performance?

    The material he had to work with was poor.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I found it a right wing look at an historical but justly ignored figure in our national canopy. It had no redeeming qualities I could discern. I even remained listening until the end. It went off a cliff and never really recovered.


    Any additional comments?

    Whose idea was it to include the reading of credits at the conclusion of the book? That was a disastrous decision on top of a sad and sorry tale. This would have been okay but she thanked everyone imaginable for this and for that. What a waste of time!

    2 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Elgin, IL, United States 03-21-13
    Peter Elgin, IL, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A Dull Man, a Duller Biography"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    It's hard to write an interesting biography of a dull person. One approach is to do a "Life and Times" which would have worked especially well her, because the events of the 1920's are fascinating in themselves. I was left with no idea whatsoever why Calvin Coolidge wanted to be president, except, perhaps, to shave a few nickles off the national debt through what is now called supply-side economics. I am curious why Amity Shlaes thought this biography worth writing.


    Has Coolidge turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I've learned that I prefer biographies of great, or at least interesting, people. A president is not worth an exhaustive biography simply because our political system happened to cough him up.


    Have you listened to any of Terence Aselford’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I believe this was my first experience with Terence Aselford. His reading was excellent.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I'm an insomniac, and the book succeeded in putting me to sleep several times.


    Any additional comments?

    1) I had a higher opinion of Calvin Coolidge before I listened to this than I do now.
    2) I would suggest avoiding biographies of Franklin Pierce as well.

    1 of 8 people found this review helpful
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