John Milton Cooper, Jr., is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s preeminent Woodrow Wilson biographers. This thoroughly researched profile of America’s 28th president is universally hailed for its scholarship and insight into the life and career ofone of the nation’s most polarizing leaders.
©2009 John Milton Cooper, Jr. (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
"A rich and thoughtful portrait of a transformative, controversial and resonant president.” (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author)
“Cooper’s monumental new biography seeks to revive Wilson for the 21st century—not simply to narrate a presidential life, but to explain why he deserves our national esteem….An admiring and engaging work of presidential revisionism…. A powerful, deeply researched and highly readable case for keeping Wilson in the top ranks of American presidents.” (New York Times Book Review)
Bought this book as I was intrigued by the subject. The author approaches his subject in a very scholarly way but it does read more like an extended encyclopedia entry than an engrossing picture of the man. Have to say that I did not enjoy the narrator whose style was very ponderous.
This book so good, that it is hard to understand why it was only a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It is extremely informative about an era that isn't as well covered as others in American history. Though I am pretty knowledgeable about history, there were many things in here that were quite new to me, such as how his legislative success rivaled that of FDR, the conflicts with Mexico (and their relation to earlier imperialism), and how Wilson's progressivism compared with Theodore Roosevelt's progressivism. Overall, in it you learn a lot, not just about Wilson's presidency but about American history in the first two decades of the 20th century.
As a reader of many biographies of American political figures, I found this one to be very disappointing, not so much for what it includes as for what it doesn't. The author does a good job of describing Wilson's actions, but I came away from the story with no real feel for the inner man and what motivated him. There was almost nothing included from Wilson's journals or private letters (could this scholar really have written so little?) and no interpretation on the author's part as to how various events in Wilson's life, or how his "inner man" influenced his actions. I kept recalling Jack Webb's famous line, "Just the facts, ma'am." But I look for more than that in a biography. I want the insight of McCullough, I suppose, and it was simply missing here. There is almost nothing about Wilson's childhood and virtually no details about his relationship with his parents or siblings. The death of Wilson's first wife, Ellen, was dispatched with in, if printed, must have been about two pages. The public's reaction to his second wife is still a mystery. This book needs more heft, more "personality." It was very dry.
That said, I have to say that the narrator did a fantastic job. If I'd been reading the book instead of listening, I would probably have not finished it. But the narrator was so easy to listen to that I stuck with it.
I'm not sorry I listened to it, because the availability of Wilson biographies through audible is pretty scarce. But I really would like more information than this book provides.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I have been reading books about WW1 and as Wilson was President of the U.S. during the WW1 he is on my list. This is an interesting will research and written book on Wilson, I learned a lot of from it. Cooper provided an unbiased look at Wilson showing us his good and bad traits. Wilson's greatest accomplishment was the appointment of Brandise to the Supreme Court, the first Jew so appointed. At the time this was very controversial and Wilson showed great political ability guiding the appointment to completion. He did back women suffrage but only with pushing from his daughters. He was born in the south and his record on race relations was poor. I enjoyed the realm of personal information provided on Wilson, he left lots of letters. Too bad the art of letter writing is passing away, they wrote so elegantly in the 1900's. There is so much infromation packed into this book I can not begin to hightlight but a small portion. If you are interested in history or in U.S. President this book is well worth the credits.
Semi-retired labor and delivery nurse, wife, mother and grandmother of 10. Love to read for pleasure. B&B owner in the Texas Hill Country.
Wilson's family and key people in his life lacked form. There was so little information about who they were and how he related to them on a personal level. Very bare bones on the relationships which is what makes us interested in history.
Yes, but not for a while. Need to read a novel now.
His performance was very good. Precise and easy to listen to for a long book.
Yes, I love history even when it's a little dry.
I found the audio version unfortunate in its choice of reader: both the voice and the pronunciaton were sometimes grating. Intonation and pace were fine, though, and I never lost interest.
I listened to this book immediately after Doris Kearns Goodwin's 'The Bully Pulpit' and it was a great way to move on from that overview of the time of Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft.
Worked on the pronunciation of unusual and foreign words.
The idea that just weeks before his death, Wilson, who should have stepped aside after his stroke over four years earlier, was still able to believe that it made sense to prepare for another run at the Presidency later the same year.
Fans of The West Wing may remember Ainslie Hayes, played by Emily Procter, the Republican lawyer who takes a job in the Counsel’s Office of a Democratic White House. In a bantering argument with Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), she asks “How many grand theories of international relations did [Woodrow] Wilson come up with that were dead on arrival in Congress?”
There was, in fact, only one that mattered. But it was massive.
US President at the end of the First World War, Wilson was a leading figure in drawing up the Versailles Peace Treaty that made peace with Germany and launched the League of Nations. That body, the predecessor to the United Nations, was intended to prevent war by using the power of other states against any that tried to impose its will be violence.
As John Milton Cooper points out, Wilson ‘conceded that the League would bring no absolute guarantee against another world war, “but I can predict with absolute certainty that, within another generation, there will be another world war if the nations of the world, if the League of Nations, does not prevent it with concerted action.’
In the event, he couldn’t persuade Congress to ratify the Treaty and the US never joined the League of Nations. There were, undoubtedly, other factors but the world did indeed descend into another world war, as Wilson predicted, within a generation.
This book was a poor read. The narrator sounded tired. The book did not follow characters well. The author worships Wilson. He makes odd references and repeats them constantly. During Wilson's presidency, the author says he worked on a Sunday at least a dozen times. I get it, Wilson was religious, but it seemed like he worked every Sunday. Barely any time was devoted to America's involvement in WWI. In the last third of the book, the author blames every misstep of the president on his ailing health, even though his stroke was over a year away. He also makes it seem like every speech Wilson gave was tremendous and would have killed anyone else lacking Wilson's strength and resolve.
Perhaps Wilson is the problem, but the book did not help me understand the man. It lists his accomplishments, but spends little time on his errors. Sometimes I could understand his thought process and get a bit into his rationale, but for the most part, I felt like I was very much on the outside. This difficult book was not helped by the fact that I had just finished biographies on Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy did more each decade than Wilson seemed to do in his whole life.
The flow of the book is also an issue. The middle two-thirds of the book would get into a particular subject and then follow it years into the future. Without a transition, the book would then swing back to the moment the digression started and continue on the timeline. This was difficult to follow as sometimes I was not sure when the flash forward was over.
I would not recommend this book. It is too much hero worship and fails to weave together a nice portrait of Wilson. I plan to move on in history, but will need to read another biography to truly understand this man.
Lots of gaseous and extremely conventional characterization as compared with direct historical content & contextual analysis.
His voice is that of an old man, with rather more of an accent that I'd expect. A ponderous text becomes more ponderous.
Concentrate on his presidency
It was dull. So many insignificant details. What a bore for a man that had just great ideas
Drawl. Sleep walking
I cant rememer anything its that boring
Read the policy not the politics. This was painful, not sure who would get excited by this, youd have to be in a coma.
Making my way through all the US President a biography at a time.
Presidential biographies are often trade-off of narrative vs comprehensive coverage, this is the latter. I feel satisfied I know Wilson in a way other presidential fail to cover all aspects but it makes for long listening at times. The first 10% on his academic career should be 1%, but after that particularly difficult section it improved. It's 36 hours don't fly as the style and narration are not gripping, but having completed it I'm glad I committed to it.
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