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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 10-02-10

Comprehensive...but a bit dry

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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On the outside looking in

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • IRVING, TX, United States
  • 10-26-11

Very good

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 06-05-12

The Headmaster in troubled times

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.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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From the audio book - Wilson was boring

I can’t get enough of the old presidents. This one doesn’t seem to exciting. I’m much more knowledgeable now. I need to learn about his second wife. I think she was much more influential than the book reveals.

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Top 5 or 6 worst significant presidents

Wilson was oppressive and was an earlier sign of what's to come in politics. Changed his personal opinions to get votes.

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  • Peggy
  • Utopia, Texas
  • 10-26-13

Heavy on the Facts/Dates

Is there anything you would change about this book?

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.

Would you be willing to try another book from John Milton Cooper? Why or why not?

Yes, but not for a while. Need to read a novel now.

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

His performance was very good. Precise and easy to listen to for a long book.

Was Woodrow Wilson worth the listening time?

Yes, I love history even when it's a little dry.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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So boring

What would have made Woodrow Wilson better?

Concentrate on his presidency

What was most disappointing about John Milton Cooper’s story?

It was dull. So many insignificant details. What a bore for a man that had just great ideas

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Drawl. Sleep walking

What character would you cut from Woodrow Wilson?

I cant rememer anything its that boring

Any additional comments?

Read the policy not the politics. This was painful, not sure who would get excited by this, youd have to be in a coma.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Ponderous & frequenty gaseous narrative

Would you try another book from John Milton Cooper and/or John McDonough?

No.

What was most disappointing about John Milton Cooper’s story?

Lots of gaseous and extremely conventional characterization as compared with direct historical content & contextual analysis.

What didn’t you like about John McDonough’s performance?

His voice is that of an old man, with rather more of an accent that I'd expect. A ponderous text becomes more ponderous.

4 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Good but long!

I appreciate the attention to detail and nuance, but found myself wanting to be done.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful