Calvin Coolidge

David Greenberg, Author Times Books $22 (202p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6957-0
As America's 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, popularly known as ""Silent Cal,"" had a record that ""was neither substantial nor enduring""; still, Ronald Reagan considered him ""one of our most underrated presidents,"" and historian and author Greenberg (Nixon's Shadow) sets to find out why in a precise and objective record of Coolidge's long political career. If Coolidge's commitment to minimalist government in turn minimized his contributions to the nation, he was regarded well during his two terms, probably because of ""robust economic productivity"" and his prescient use of growing public relations infrastructure, utilizing radio, film and photography to run a front-porch campaign ""long before the term 'photo op' was coined."" Coolidge's personal commitment to austerity allowed him to""pare spending in almost every government department"" and cut taxes four times; by the ""end of his second term, most Americans paid no federal income tax at all."" Though Black Thursday devastated the stock market on his watch in 1929, at the end of his presidency ""standard accounts affix some blame to his policies,"" but ""even Coolidge's harshest critics agree that the roots of the Depression lie deeper than any policies of one man."" Greenberg's history takes readers ably but unsurprisingly from rustic, post-Civil War Vermont to, in Coolidge's words, ""a new era to which I do not belong,"" showing along the way how his personality and politics helped him regain relevancy in political struggles yet to come.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 12/01/2006
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