This excellent biography offers a much-needed adjustment of Woodrow Wilson’s place in popular history.
Historians regularly rank Woodrow Wilson as a very good or even excellent president who led the United States through World War I and won approval of significant domestic policies. But the public, if they think of Wilson at all, are more likely to see an obsessive idealist whose unwillingness to compromise cost him his biggest priority.
The difference in perspectives is partly because unlike the other leading presidents of the 20th century – both Roosevelts, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan – Wilson has attracted comparatively little attention from biographers.
John Milton Cooper Jr., a historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, fills this enormous vacuum with Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, a powerful, carefully researched, and insightful new biography of the nation’s 28th president.
Born in Virginia, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Wilson lived in several Southern states before heading off to college at Princeton University. He briefly (and unhappily) practiced law before earning a PhD at Johns Hopkins University and authoring a greatly admired study of congressional decisionmaking.
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