Woodrow Wilson [ePub]

by Louis Auchincloss

This new biography of our 28th president is pithy and intelligent; it is also hurried. As with other titles in the Penguin Lives series, the match up of author and subject is inspired. Auchincloss, the highbrow novelist and biographer of such bluebloods as Edith Wharton and Henry James, is perfectly suited to chronicle the exploits of the most academic and idealistic man ever to have lived in the White House. In 18 breathless pages, Auchincloss covers Wilson's life from birth to his first executive office — president of Princeton University. It was at Princeton that Wilson caught the eye of Democratic Party bosses, who saw in the bookish professor a man they believed they could manipulate. They were wrong. As a political candidate, Wilson proved to be fiercely independent as well as a master orator. His commanding presence got him elected governor of New Jersey and then, after a fortuitous split in the Republican Party, president of the U.S. Auchincloss does a fine job of detailing the successes and failures of the Wilson administration. His only real misstep is a crude resort to pop psychology; Auchincloss invents something very close to a split personality for the president and makes constant reference throughout to the "two Woodrow Wilsons". That is only a minor flaw, however, in what is otherwise an engaging, informative introduction to one of our greatest leaders.

04.09.2010

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