BREAKING THE HEART OF THE WORLD: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations

John Milton Cooper, Jr., Author, Cooper John Milton, Author Cambridge Univ. $34.95 (468p) ISBN 978-0-521-80786-9

The tragic story of the League of Nations centers on the idealistic Woodrow Wilson, who conceived the League and offered it to the world, who developed its charter and bore the pains of its formulation at the Versailles Peace Conference that ended WWI, and who broke down in exhaustion when his own nation refused to grant ratification in the Senate. University of Wisconsin professor Cooper (The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt) does a splendid job of revealing what has come to be called "the League fight." As Cooper shows, Wilson faced an awesome challenge at Versailles among the European old-school diplomats who were determined to gain all they could for their own national interests. In the end, Wilson walked away without a generous peace agreement for the vanquished and instead pinned his hopes on what he saw as the one positive result of Versailles: the League. Cooper is especially strong in depicting senators Henry Cabot Lodge, William Borah and other conservative Republican isolationists who torpedoed ratification of the League in the U.S. with the help of many German-American voters unhappy with the draconian terms of peace forced on Germany by other aspects of the Treaty of Versailles. In the end, Cooper supplies a profoundly sad story of Wilson the man, his hopes for the world shattered just as much as his frail body was, rendered helpless by a stroke in the midst of his greatest political defeat. B&w photos. (Oct. 4)

Reviewed on: 08/06/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 466 pages - 978-0-521-14765-1
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