WILSON'S WAR: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin and World War II

Jim Powell, Author . Crown Forum $27.50 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4000-8236-0

The Holocaust, the gulags, the Cold War and a death toll exceeding 61,911,000 can all be laid at Wilson's doorstep, contends this sophomoric work in isolationist historiography. Powell, a Cato Institute fellow and author of FDR's Folly , argues that Wilson's intervention in WWI enabled the Allies to defeat Germany and impose a punitive peace settlement that made Germans bitter and antidemocratic, facilitated Hitler's rise, etc. Extending—indeed, almost parodying—Niall Ferguson's contrarian arguments from The Pity of War , he insists that a victorious German Empire would have subsided under its own weight, with Hitler and Stalin remaining unknown malcontents. Powell rehashes his arguments at inordinate length to associate Wilson's policies with subsequent Nazi and Soviet atrocities. When not flaying Wilson, Powell rides Cato's hobbyhorse of libertarian doctrine, sprinkling his chronicle of totalitarian horrors with prim sermons on free trade and laissez-faire economics; the Bolsheviks are thus scolded for their opposition to "consumers freely voting with their money, deciding which quantities, qualities, brands, styles, colors, prices, and so on that they preferred." Powell scores some points criticizing the flimsiness of Wilson's pretexts for intervention. But in using the unforeseen consequences of Wilson's actions as a brief for isolationism, he ends up blaming the 20th-century time line on one man. The result is a tendentious and heavy-handed distortion of history. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4000-8237-7
Open Ebook - 242 pages - 978-0-307-42271-2
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