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Publisher's Summary

The definitive biography of one of the United States' most controversial presidents: Herbert Hoover.

Prize-winning historian Glen Jeansonne delves into the life of our most misunderstood president, offering up a surprising new portrait of Herbert Hoover - dismissing previous assumptions and revealing a political Progressive in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt and the most resourceful American since Benjamin Franklin.

Orphaned at an early age and raised with strict Quaker values, Hoover earned his way through Stanford University. His hardworking ethic drove him to a successful career as an engineer and multinational businessman. After the Great War, he led a humanitarian effort that fed millions of Europeans left destitute, arguably saving more lives than any man in history. As commerce secretary under President Coolidge, Hoover helped modernize and galvanize American industry and orchestrated the rehabilitation of the Mississippi Valley after the Great Flood of 1927.

As president, Herbert Hoover became the first chief executive to harness federal power to combat a crippling global recession. Though Hoover is often remembered as a "do-nothing" president, Jeansonne convincingly portrays a steadfast leader who challenged Congress on an array of legislation that laid the groundwork for the New Deal. In addition Hoover reformed America's prisons, improved worker safety, and fought for better health and welfare for children. Unfairly attacked by Franklin D. Roosevelt and blamed for the Depression, Hoover was swept out of office in a landslide. Yet as FDR's government grew into a bureaucratic behemoth, Hoover became the moral voice of the GOP and a champion of Republican principles - a legacy reignited by Ronald Reagan and that still endures today.

A compelling and rich examination of his character, accomplishments, and failings, this is the magnificent biography of Herbert Hoover we have long waited for.

©2016 Glen Jeansonne (P)2016 Penguin Audio

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-26-16

Thought provoking

After working in the Palo Alto area around Stanford University, I thought I knew about Hoover. There are more buildings named for Herbert Hoover in the area than any place else. This is Hoover country. But After reading Jeansonne’s new book on Hoover, I realized I knew very little about this most interesting man.

Professor Jeansonne dismisses previous assumptions about Hoover and reveals a political progressive in the mold of his fellow Republican, Theodore Roosevelt. I acquired some great trivia information from the book. Did you know that Herbert Hoover saved more lives than any man in history? In WWI and WWII, he was responsible for feeding and providing medical care to all the refugees from the Wars. He saved 1.3 million Russians from starvation in spite of the actions of Stalin. It was Hoover that had the first telephone placed on the President’s desk in the oval office. Hoover made a fortune as an engineer and businessman. He was a gifted administrator, organizer and a brilliant logistics expert.
Hoover was labeled the “Do-nothing” President but Jeansonne proves that wrong. Hoover had a dysfunctional and divided congress but Hoover did manage to get some legislation through that laid the groundwork for the “New Deal”. In Hoover’s first eight months in office he reformed the prisons, improved worker’s safety and fought for health and welfare for children. He also had reduced the federal government to its smallest size in years and was reducing the military.

The book is well written, meticulously researched and an insightful evaluation of a misunderstood and forgotten president. I felt the author repeated himself too often, which I found annoying. The author attempts to correct the distorted image of Herbert Hoover. Jeansonne provides an impressive and provocative evaluation of Hoover. In my opinion, Jeansonne attempts to balance his evaluation of Hoover. He points out his failures as well as his achievements. It is apparent that the author is attempting to correct an image, but I do not feel he crossed the line into a hagiographic biography. The book is fairly long at about seventeen hours.

Jeansonne is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin.
Mark Deakins does an excellent job narrating the book. Deakins is an actor and multi-award winning audiobook narrator.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Very good with a couple reservations

This was an excellent biography. However there were times it was repetitious, and while he tried to be fair, author's political bias occasionally became distracting especially in any parts dealing with FDR and The New Deal.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • Bridgewater, NJ, United States
  • 05-07-17

Author is a sycophant

I wanted the headline to read "Got new appreciation of Hoover, but author was sycophant", but I was limited by 50 characters.

I found this to be a fascinating biography of a president that has been so demonized in history. I am an engineer, so I really love that Hoover was a mining engineer and thought like I do in a logical and methodical way. I love that he did so much good in the food relief programs that he ran. That is the opposite of how he is portrayed. Ii was fascinated by how progressive he was in the earlier part of his life which is the opposite of how he is portrayed. He even showed some of that in his presidency, if the author is to be believed, with the programs he put into place to address the Great Depression. However, I am not sure how much of that I can believe because the author is such a huge sycophant of Hoover. He can barely say anything negative about him and spins some of the well documented negative things he has done into non events or good things. He also was much more harsh to Hoover's opponents, like FDR, than any author has ever been. He really shows his extreme partisanship there. Then he takes positive things that previous opponents have said about Hoover out of the context of when they were said much later on and cherry picks one journalist or one article that are favorable to Hoover to bolster the author's AGENDA.I don't know what I should believe as a result.

I gave it 3 stars because of the information on his pre-presidential years, but then the author really went off the deep end. Now, I don't know how much of the pre-presidential information I should believe.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Stan
  • LINDEN, TN, US
  • 03-08-17

Worth Your Time

This is an account of a remarkable man. Before reading this book my knowledge of President Hoover was minimal and my viewpoint skewed by what little I knew. Basically I equated Hoover with the Depression. This book will open your eyes to a great man who had he been President earlier or later would likely be considered one of our great Presidents.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben Nolan
  • GLEN MILLS, PENNSYLVANIA, US
  • 07-08-18

Title of the book should have been “The case for Herbert Hoover’s sainthood”

Tremendously over the top, sycophantic biography. Unwarranted attempt to make the case that Hoover was ahead of his time and on the correct side of every issue, from the Great Depression to the New Deal to race relations to later 20th century politics. A very defensive book. Clearly attempting to defend Hoover against the consensus historical belief that he was responsible for the Great Depression, and didn’t do enough to alleviate the human suffering caused by it.

I would recommend to potential purchasers that they select another more balanced biography of Herbert Hoover.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Erich
  • Mt Pleasant, SC, United States
  • 02-06-18

Hoover

Creates a good argument that the heat of past partisan politics has almost indelibly warped the historical narrative. This biography is the best criticism I’ve read of the New Deal as, if not a failure, at least very wanting as a response to the Great Depression. I’ve come to expect that all biographers, to some extent, become their subject’s champion and apologist. This biography is no exception and while the extolling of Hoover’s virtues is in plain sight, the apologies for his failings aren’t made directly. They are delivered through omissions and elisions, which I find either a dangerous attempt to obscure hard truths or a sad ignorance of historical perspective.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Different perspective on Hoover

An interesting book which works hard to emphasize every possible strength of Hoover. A little more objectivity would have been good, still a good book.

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Great American, not so great President.

I liked this book quite a bit as it opened my eyes to who Hoover really was. He was a far bigger presence and important figure than the negative view everyone is taught in school. This book was a little more sparse with details while he was in office, or so it seemed to me, but the book wasn't too long so it ended up being OK.

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Herbert Hoover - good story

This audio book entertains from beginning to end. It tells a most fascinating story of one of our most under-appreciated presidents. As a student of U.S. History I appreciate this man's accomplishments before, during, and after his term in office. I wish more people would learn about Mr. Hoover.

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A surprisingly influential figure

Would you listen to Herbert Hoover again? Why?

Yes. I always had a less than impressive regard for Hoover. That was because his presidency is linked with the Great Depression. Now I know much more about him; how and why he was able to become president. Regardless of political persuasion, one must admit that he accomplished much to be admired.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Herbert Hoover?

His struggle to meet the demands of Stanford.

Which scene was your favorite?

In general, his time in China.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Accomplishing the American Dream