A Noble Failure: Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency ConsideredRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Woodrow Wilson
Few Americans who care about their nation’s past think fondly of Woodrow Wilson; the ahistorical majority probably doesn’t think about him at all. Six presidents in the 20th century managed to win re-election; Wilson is the only one who lacks a distinguishing trait—such as FDR’s perpetual smile, Nixon’s angry paranoia, or Reagan’s hearty optimism—or a nickname—like Dick, or Ike, or Bill. And he achieved nothing, like the New Deal or a conservative “revolution,” that would earn him either mass hatred or reverence today.
But Wilson’s time in office was, in fact, of enormous consequence. A devout Presbyterian and crusading liberal, he struggled mightily to put his grand ideals into practice. Yet his deeds had a way of defying his purposes, and he left the White House as an invalid and perceived as a failure....
A. Scott Berg is the latest writer to try to make sense of this complicated president—and to describe how his fifty-seven years before ascending to the White House might explain how he behaved when he got there....
Unfortunately... [Berg's] talent as a biographer tends to overwhelm his desire to be a historian. He gushes about his subject’s energetic eloquence, pointing out that Wilson was the last president to write all his own speeches. Yet fine orators were abundant in American politics at the turn-of-century America (William Jennings Bryan, Eugene Debs, and Robert La Follette made their reputations on the stump), and Berg fails to explain how Wilson soared above the rest....
comments powered by Disqus
- Human Evolution: Walking Upright Evolved at Least 3.6 Million Years Ago—Long Before Modern Humans Appeared
- Why a primary challenge to Trump is likely to fail
- Smog and Disasters Spurred the Laws Trump Wants to Undo
- After Sylvester Stallone Call, Trump Considers ‘Full Pardon’ of Long-Dead Black Boxer
- Disclosed: Journalist helped defuse a budding conflict between the US and Cuba in 1964
- Dartmouth historian Matthew J. Garcia says conservative partisans in Arizona have taken over a civics school he once ran
- Berkeley’s Carolyn Merchant explains what ecofeminism is
- University of Southern California's David Kang says Korea is the only place on earth where the Cold War continues
- W.R. Smyser, U.S. diplomat turned historian of postwar Germany, dies at 86
- Max Boot: North Korea is conning Donald Trump yet again