A Noble Failure: Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency Consideredtags: 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
- How Americans Feel About Religious Groups
- Tea Party support linked to educational segregation, new study shows
- History of Philly Rests Under I-95
- Agreement aims to protect North Shore wrecks from looters
- Award-Winning Filmmaker Kevin McCann to Produce the First Film about the Easter Rising in Ireland
- It's official: 2014 AHA election results are in
- In new book UC Berkeley historian Waldo E. Martin, Jr. takes Black Panther Party's point of view
- Economics historian finds that real social mobility takes hundreds of years
- Historian turns baker?