Clifford D. May: Herbert Hoover’s Lessons





Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism.

It was Herbert Hoover’s misfortune to be president when the stock market crashed in 1929. Three years later, Franklin Roosevelt would blame him for the Great Depression and defeat him at the ballot box. Historians ranking American presidents have placed Hoover near the bottom of their lists ever since.
 
If you’ve read Amity Shlaes’s masterful The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, (and if you haven’t, do so without delay) you know there was more to Hoover’s economic thinking than is generally recognized. But for the last 20 years of his life, Hoover spent much of his time and energy on national security, laboring over what he called his “magnum opus,” a combination revisionist history of World War II, memoir, and scathing critique of Roosevelt’s foreign policy.
 
Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath was completed almost half a century ago but published only last year following a herculean editing job by historian George H. Nash. According to Nash, Hoover’s 900-page tome should be read “as an argument that challenges us to think afresh about our past.” It should be read also, I would suggest, as an argument that challenges us to think afresh about our present and future...


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