From the #1 New York Times bestselling author, "a brilliant biography"* of the 28th president of the United States.
*Doris Kearns Goodwin
One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth 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 twenty-eighth 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 visionary Princeton professor who constructed a model for higher education in America to the architect of the ill-fated League of Nations, from the devout Commander in Chief who ushered the country through its first great World War to the widower of intense passion and turbulence who wooed a second wife with hundreds of astonishing love letters, 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, from the trailblazer whose ideas paved the way for the New Deal and the Progressive administrations that followed to the politician whose partisan battles with his opponents left him a broken man, and ultimately, a tragic figure—this is 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.
This won't replace John Milton Cooper Jr.'s superb 2009 biography of the United States' 28th president (Woodrow Wilson), and one could argue that Berg's isn't needed so soon after Cooper's; other than two caches of papers belonging to Wilson's daughter Jesse and his physician, nothing significantly new about him has been learned in the past four years. Notwithstanding, Berg (he won a Pulitzer for Lindbergh) has written a lively, solid book. It's more digestible than Cooper's scholarly tome, and Berg does a better job of capturing Wilson's personality. Before he occupied the Oval Office, Wilson served as president of Princeton; Berg like Cooper is an alumnus of the university, and is generally sympathetic to the man (he puts much emphasis on Wilson's love for his two wives and characterizes him as a passionate lover as well as a determined leader), while taking a more critical stand against his racial views and policies, his handling of the League of Nations, and of the secrecy that surrounded his late-presidency illness. Most importantly, Berg presents Wilson's failure to win the world over to his post-WWI vision as a personal and national tragedy. He's right, but Berg's likening of Wilson's life to biblical stages is overkill (chapter titles include "Ascension," "Gethsemane," etc.). Fortunately, the theme of tragedy while nothing new binds the book and lifts it above more conventional biographies. Photos.
Too Long But Worthwhile
Berg gets bogged down in too much detail and unnecessary minutiae but I learned a great deal about Wilson and you learn to admire the man and appreciate his accomplishments and ideals. For the true history buff only due to the length of the book...EAF
A model one volume biography
A model one volume biography of a progressive who could work with Congress and get things done. Berg reminds us of why Wilson was great and still matters.