In the tradition of Truman, John Adams, and Team of Rivals, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning biographer of Charles Lindbergh, Maxwell Perkins, and Samuel Goldwyn sheds new light on a president and his presidency in a way that redefines our understanding of a tide-turning historical moment.
A hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson - the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details - even several unknown events - that fill in missing pieces of Wilson's character and cast new light on his entire life.
From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence, from the idealist determined to make the world "safe for democracy" to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity and the subterfuges around it were among the century's greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view - a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson's life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon - but Wilson the man.
©2013 A. Scott Berg (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
I thought that this book was extremely well written. I also thought that Jeremy Bobb did an superb job with the narration. The biggest problem I had with the book is that Professor Berg has produced a volume that deifies President Wilson too much and is not critical enough of his shortcomings both as a person and as a world leader. Throughout the book Berg gives short shift to Wilson's weaknesses (his unwillingness to forgive people whom he felt betrayed him, his pure enmity for Henry Cabot Lodge with regard to the Versailles treaty and the racism that came from his Southern roots) while spending way too much time on the good that he accomplished (his Progressive Agenda and his willingness to try to avoid US involvement in World War I until Imperial Germany pushed him too far). In writing this book Berg indicated that he had access to previously unreleased materials (i.e. the letters of one of Wilson's daughters and the letters of Dr. Grayson who was Wilson's personal physician), but in completing the book I am left with the feeling that the addition of these materials did not add greatly to the biography or shed any new light on Wilson than what I already know. If you have never read a biography of Wilson before, this book would be a good place to start in trying to understand him- but I believe that if you really want to understand the man and the times he lived, this book is only a first step.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
The last few years I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about World War I. Woodrow Wilson was the President during WWI therefore I have read several biographies on Wilson. In 2012 I read “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography” by John Milton Cooper which I enjoyed. Due to all my reading of Wilson I might have been demanding more from Berg’s biography of Wilson than he could deliver. Berg successfully demonstrates Wilson in all his complexity. The book covered in-depth Wilson’s youth, education process, his early career and his turning toward academe. The book describes his ascent form academia to president. Berg also noted that when he was young Wilson practiced his signature over and over because he felt that someday he would be writing it on important documents. His early goal was to be a statesman and he studied toward that goal. As President Wilson created the Federal Reserve Bank, progressive taxation and the State of the Union address. Berg downplayed Wilson’s faults for example he displayed a southern perspective of racial intolerance and he increased segregation in some government agencies. He also downplayed Wilson inability to forgive anyone he thought crossed him, his womanizing, and his behavior negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. His first Secretary of State was William Jennings Bryant who most people recognize from the Scope Trial and his railing against evolution. I did not care for the bible quotes at the beginning of each chapter. If this is a person’s first book on Wilson remember even thought the book is in-depth coverage in it not unbiased. Jeremy Bobb did a good job narrating the book.
The author want to say wilson was great but the facts keep getting in the way
In many ways wilson was the Jimmy Carter of his age
A moral man
A smart man
Not a politician
On the bad side
A know it all dreamer
A bad Judge of people
A sickly man
be more objective Giving a a speech is not a profile of courage
there is a movie to be made on his time in office
author glosses over flaws and rationalize way to many of them
Terrific biography written with great understatement and attention. Gave me a much better appreciation for the man and his times.
I love the last 150 years of history. Bully Pulpit and the Wilson biography absolute best!
Woodrow Wilson is almost forgotten. He was a brilliant, moral, if flawed man and this book can't be put down. Scott Berg has exceeded even his biography of Lindberg here. The book is mesmerizingly read aloud and a joy to go back and walk around in Wilson's time and see him struggle and mostly prevail.
Berg is an outstanding biographer. I chose this book because I enjoyed his "Lindbergh". I was not disappointed. This should be required reading for young adults...and the rest of us as well. It is that well done in every respect.
Wilson is arguably one of five American Presidents who had the most impact on subsequent generations. Berg traces Wilson's academic development (warts and all) and how he went from being President of Princeton to President of the US in two years without ever really becoming a "politician".. Wilson faced a time of rapid world change with an astounding view of the future. His policies were what eventually led to the American position of superpower. He was overcome during his lifetime by the inertia of empire stabilized world politics but the things he did not get finished came to fruition under FDR and Truman. This was a man (with "feet of clay") who had a vision that the world needed but took another war to realize.
I would, if it was narrated by a different narrator.
Insofar as it is a biography of an American President, I compare this book to John Adams by David McCullough, Thomas Jefferson by John Meacham, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Founding Rivals by Chris De Rose.
George Guidall, Simon Prebble, Chrisotpher Hurt, Suzanne Toren, Edward Hermann, Nelson Runger, or George Wilson.
I have to think about this one.
Although the narration is dull, monotone, and tedious, the biography is well-written and wonderful. It is a must-read for anyone even mildly interested in the United State's presidential history.
Family guy, comic book fan, and way too interested in the outcome of most sporting events.
A very fascinating man. Wilson was a brilliant but flawed man that did much to lead the US into is Era of global importance. I learned a lot and will listen again down the line.
Engineer in St Louis, Missouri, United States
Narrator: Good and Very Good
The Book: The book is not a good Biography. If you read Ron Chernow, HW Brands, TJ Stiles, David Nasaw, or Jon Meacham…they are fascinated by the subject, but they are not lovers of the subject.
Chernow gets into the gory details of Washington and Hamilton. Brands gives you details on Reagan. Stiles gives you 360-degrees of Vanderbilt. Meacham Jefferson is not 100% complete, but way more complete than “Wilson”
The entire battle with Henry Cabot Lodge is reduced to petty rivalry when the issue was much deeper than that. Wilson's war economy is given a “pass” and the author says that the railroads were “run better by the government”. This is 100% false. It ruined the great American rail system, can you say Amtrack.
Then there is Wilson totalitarianism at Princeton. He wanted to control the social order and became enraged when he could not do it. How about just administering classes and staying the heck out of people’s lives.
Then there is the mysterious Colonel House in WWI. The author fails to explain why Wilson claimed neutrality in every way but put the USA at war at all times. A complete biography would delve deeper into Wilson potentially being a puppet to Wall Street bond holders with British ties. Particularly, the House of Morgan. Even the Morgan's bragged about duping Wilson in Mexico, WWI, and China
Then, the author spends hours on the details of Wilson’s boring love life, but no real detail on the Federal Reserve. The monster that still plagues America was created by Wilson’s administration – In this book, it is basically less important than Wilson’s delight in visiting Scotland – to spend time with the George Soros of his day, Andrew Carnegie.
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