Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

John Milton Cooper, Jr., Author Knopf $35 (702p) ISBN 978-0-307-26541-8

If we must have another presidential biography, best to have one of a figure who hasn't had his life written about at length for two decades. While the Wilson we find here differs little from the man we've known before, Cooper's new book is an authoritative, up-to-date study of the great president. Cooper (Breaking the Heart of the World ), a noted Wilson expert at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, offers balanced and judicious assessments of the life and career of one of the nation's most controversial leaders. From his youth in Virginia, through his years at Princeton, then as New Jersey governor and president, Wilson faced thickets of challenges, not all of which he managed effectively. At the end, sick and weakened, characteristically stubborn and moralistic, he notoriously failed to gain American membership in the League of Nations. Yet Cooper, while sympathetic to his subject—a visionary and Progressive reformer in domestic politics—fairly records Wilson's Southern racism along with his keen intellect and political acuity. Wilson would come to be, Cooper concludes, “one of the best remembered and argued over of all presidents.” While not stemming any disputes, this book will please and inform all readers. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 2)

Reviewed on: 09/14/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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