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Woodrow Wilson

A Biography
Narrated by: John McDonough
Length: 35 hrs and 57 mins
4 out of 5 stars (188 ratings)

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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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Balanced History of an Important President<br />

I loved this book and listened to it in a short time. Not enough is known about this crucial character, and I learned a lot of background about his thought process and the way we entered World War I. This was a wonderful book.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Important biography, but overreaching author

Woodrow Wilson was an important man in is day, but his record tends to be perceived as a bit boring. I was hoping to gain some insight into his life with this biography with this audio book. I succeeded, but with only great difficulty.

The author is primarily at fault. In the first many chapters leading up to Wilson's first election, the author frequently jumps ahead in the chronological timeline, anticipating Wilson's future actions. This technique is distracting to a reader. He also will discuss an event by introducing an overview, then stating what he believes other historians or the public believes of the event's value, then presents the details of the event, and finally closes by stating what he (the author) knows is the positive good from the event. Basically, the author seems to be an apologist for the actions of Woodrow Wilson's career. There is too much of this type of assessment in this biography. I skipped many minutes of Wilson's early life and governorship because I simply could no longer bear to listen to the latest excuses from the author as to errors supposedly made by Wilson, when I did not view the evidence diplaying such errors.

The author rarely mentions Teddy Roosevelt, even though the author also states TR as Wilson's "greatest rival." it was as though one would view Wilson more weak a leader if TR were discussed in more frquent comparison. Probably that predictions would be true, but the context of both men needs to be explored more deeply if Wilson's acheivements are to be fully examined.

The actor who voices the narration is very deliberate and precise. But he simply speaks too slowly. I listened at 1.15x speed to make his delivery sound more natural. I would be not surprised if others listened at 1.25x.

Organization of audio book: the book is listed in Audible as having 54 (or so) chapters, but the actor presents chapters totalling about 25 (or so). It seems like Audible lists the chapters by the length of presentation rather than by the author's organization. Such cataloging makes it confusing for a listener who refers to the Audible player software. Audible needs a better way of listing such long chapters that makes more sense. Maybe listing chapters in decimal format, such as 23.5, 24, 24.5, etc. to match the reading better.

I believe this is my first truly critical Audible review. I am sorry about that. I would like to find a more satisfactory Wilson Biography, as I am trying to gain more knowledge of 20th century world events with respect to the US Presidents' lives, and Wilson's time was very pivotal.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great book

great book on the president who got this country through ww1 and had it not been for his stroke and failure to get the league of nations going might have gone on to a 3rd term

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good read very eduvational.

good teadable history interesting throughy absorbing. Well read. thoughtful and educational. i learned a lot about a historically neglected president

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

So well presented & narrated that it reminded me of Truman by David Mccullough. Thorough, well written, about all you can ask for in a complete biography. On par with the Best.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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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 9 people found this review helpful