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The American Presidents Series: The 28th President, 1913-1921
The American Presidents
H. W. Brands; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor
Times Books, June 2003
ISBN: 978-0-8050-6955-6, ISBN10: 0-8050-6955-0,
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 192 pages, Includes a black-and-white illustration,
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United States: 1900 to 1945
United States & Canada
Woodrow Wilson was a man of words. Overcoming dyslexia, he finally learned to read at the age of ten, and then went on to spend much of his early life writing about politics and practicing oratory on the empty benches of his father's Presbyterian churches. Academic studies of the American Constitution and Congress (which he considered the most important branch of the federal government) established his reputation for original and insightful political thinking, which in turn led to his appointment to the presidency of Princeton and, eventually, to his nomination for the presidency of the United States. His term would be marked by his intellectual approach to government and the comprises demanded by practical politics.
On the eve of his inauguration, Wilson commented, "It would be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs." As America was drawn into the Great War in Europe, Wilson relied on his scholarship, principles, and political savvy to overcome his ignorance of world affairs and lead the country out of isolationism. His vision of the United States as a nation uniquely suited for moral leadership by virtue of its democratic tradition has been a defining characteristic of America’s identity ever since.
Acclaimed historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands offers a clear, well-informed, and timely account of Wilson's unusual route to the White House, his campaign against corporate interests, his struggles with rivals at home and allies abroad, and his temporary decline in popularity following the rejection by Congress of his League of Nations. Wilson emerges as a fascinating man of oratorical power, penetrating thought, and inspiring ideals.
"For nearly a century, the ghost of Woodrow Wilson has haunted the councils of governments and the conduct of diplomacy. When the United Nation mediates armed struggles or dispatches peacekeepers, it follows a path charted by Wilson at Paris in 1919; when the United States promotes democracy in Eastern Europe or central Asia or the Middle East, it pursues a vision first given broad currency by Wilson. The American Senate disavowed Wilson when it rejected the Treaty of Versailles, but eight decades later we are all Wilsonians, whether we like it or not. Who was this man—this unique case of an American president whose influence far transcended his own country and long outlasted his own time?—
H. W. Brands on Woodrow Wilson
"A worthy overview that acknowledges Wilson's considerable strengths and his many limitations."—
"Brands ably underscores Wilson's ultimate success through his eloquence and his ideas in steering thought about foreign affairs toward a liberal alternative to real politick."—
About the Author(s)
H. W. Brands
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
H. W. Brands
is a distinguished professor of history and holder of the Melbern G. Glassock Chair at Texas A&M University. His previous books include the Pulitzer Prize finalist
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
The Age of Gold
, a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
is arguably the preeminent political historian of our time. For more than half a century, he has been a cornerstone figure in the intellectual life of the nation and a fixture on the political scene. He served as special assistant to John F. Kennedy; won two Pulitzer Prizes for
The Age of Jackson
A Thousand Days
(1966); and in 1998 received the National Humanities Medal. He published the first volume of his autobiography,
A Life in the Twentieth Century
, in 2000.
To See the Benches Smile
In the beginning was the word. And in the end was the word. And in between were words: beautiful words, soaring words, words that moved a nation and enthralled a world, words that for a wonderful moment were more powerful than armies, words that made the most terrible sacrifice seem part of a glorious struggle, words that echoed across the oceans and down the decades.
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