Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II [NOOK Book]

Overview

The fateful blunder that radically altered the course of the twentieth century—and led to some of the most murderous dictators in history

President Woodrow Wilson famously rallied the United States to enter World War I by saying the nation had a duty to make “the world safe for democracy.” But as historian Jim Powell demonstrates in this shocking reappraisal, Wilson actually made a horrible blunder by committing the United States to fight. Far...
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Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II

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Overview

The fateful blunder that radically altered the course of the twentieth century—and led to some of the most murderous dictators in history

President Woodrow Wilson famously rallied the United States to enter World War I by saying the nation had a duty to make “the world safe for democracy.” But as historian Jim Powell demonstrates in this shocking reappraisal, Wilson actually made a horrible blunder by committing the United States to fight. Far from making the world safe for democracy, America’s entry into the war opened the door to murderous tyrants and Communist rulers. No other president has had a hand—however unintentional—in so much destruction. That’s why, Powell declares, “Wilson surely ranks as the worst president in American history.”

Wilson’s War reveals the horrifying consequences of our twenty-eighth president’s fateful decision to enter the fray in Europe. It led to millions of additional casualties in a war that had ground to a stalemate. And even more disturbing were the long-term consequences—consequences that played out well after Wilson’s death. Powell convincingly demonstrates that America’s armed forces enabled the Allies to win a decisive victory they would not otherwise have won—thus enabling them to impose the draconian surrender terms on Germany that paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

Powell also shows how Wilson’s naiveté and poor strategy allowed the Bolsheviks to seize power in Russia. Given a boost by Woodrow Wilson, Lenin embarked on a reign of terror that continued under Joseph Stalin. The result of Wilson’s blunder was seventy years of Soviet Communism, during which time the Communist government murdered some sixty million people.

Just as Powell’s FDR’s Folly exploded the myths about Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, Wilson’s War destroys the conventional image of Woodrow Wilson as a great “progressive” who showed how the United States can do good by intervening in the affairs of other nations. Jim Powell delivers a stunning reminder that we should focus less on a president’s high-minded ideals and good intentions than on the consequences of his actions.

A selection of the Conservative Book Club and American Compass

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Following his reactionary attack on the New Deal in FDR's Folly, historian Powell (senior fellow, Cato Inst.) sets his sights on another progressive hero, Woodrow Wilson. Here he argues that Wilson's political naivet and his decision to enter World War I were chiefly responsible for the terrible events that followed in Germany and Russia. In Powell's view, the war had reached a stalemate, and were it not for U.S. involvement, the Allies would have lost. The defeat of Germany, then, led to the rise of Hitler and World War II. Credible historians have long pondered the fate of Europe had World War I ended differently. But Powell is on shaky ground indeed when he links Wilson to the rise of Bolshevism in Russia. This book has limited value as a work of revisionist history, but it may revive a spirited assessment of Wilson in the pages of history journals. Recommended only for comprehensive academic collections.-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
If Woodrow Wilson hadn't entangled the US in WWI, there wouldn't have been a Hitler. Hitler, of course, said that the humiliation at Versailles-mostly at the hands of France and England-made it necessary for him to come to power, but he didn't stop to single out Wilson personally. Never mind: for Cato Institute denizen Powell (The Triumph of Liberty, 2000, etc.), Wilson was the architect of the 20th-century's worst political disasters, and therefore "surely ranks as the worst president in American history." By Powell's account, this is not merely because Wilson dragged America into WWI (as, the right wing once sniffed, FDR dragged America into WWII) for his own selfish and misguided reasons, but also because-that most mortal of sins among libertarians-he turned away from laissez-faire policies, which means more government and more tax. And why? Because Wilson "had dreams of glory, telling other people what to do at the peace settlement." And to get a place at the peace table, Wilson had to get us into the war: ergo Versailles, and thence Hitler, and Lenin, eased into power because Wilson "utterly misunderstood what was going on in Russia," and Stalin, because without Lenin there could be no Stalin, and so on. Of course, Waterloo would have turned out differently if Napoleon had only had a few helicopters: this is a book in which post hoc is definitely propter hoc, and never mind the factual niceties, and in which history hinges on single men rather than-as most historians would suggest-a combination of social and economic forces and people in the right place. The upshot is up-to-the-minute: lest we create a few more Stalins down the line, Powell insists, the US must become isolationistrather than interventionist ("American blood and treasure should be reserved for safeguarding Americans"), and thus lessen the reach of that pesky thing, government. Powell uses up a lot of vitriol, supported by mere assertion, to get to that payoff. None of it is convincing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307422712
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 429,110
  • File size: 569 KB

Meet the Author

Historian Jim Powell is the author of FDR’s Folly and The Triumph of Liberty. A senior fellow at the Cato Institute since 1988, he has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, American Heritage, Barron’s, Esquire, the Chicago Tribune, Money magazine, Reason, and numerous other national publications. He has lectured at Harvard, Stanford, and other universities across the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, and South America. Powell lives in Connecticut with his family.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

1

HOW DID THAT MONSTROUS WAR HAPPEN?

World War I marked the end of a glorious era, the most peaceful period in modern history. The last general European war had concluded a century earlier, in 1815, when the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated and banished to a shabby house on St. Helena, a British-controlled island in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 1,140 miles west of South Africa.

The Napoleonic Wars helped convince several generations that war was an evil to be avoided. The dapper Corsican Napoleon had emerged as a military strongman amid the wreckage of the French Revolution. In 1799 and 1800 he led successful French military campaigns against Austro-Hungarian armies in Italy and Germany. In 1799 he seized power in a coup. He declared himself to be consul for life. He resolved to conquer Egypt, gain French territory in the Caribbean, and extend his influence throughout the Mediterranean. He annexed Piedmont and forced a more congenial government on the Swiss Confederation.

Napoleon established the first modern police state. He tapped Joseph Fouche, who had been educated for the clergy but had never taken his vows as a priest, to organize a secret police force. As a Jacobin during the French Revolution, Fouche had organized mass shootings. He developed Napoleon's spy network throughout Europe, and he arranged to have adversaries abducted and shot.

The nationalist fury that swept through Germany during the mid-twentieth century, providing political support for Hitler, began to develop after Napoleon humiliated the German-speaking people. He defeated the Austrian army at Austerlitz (1805) and crushed the Prussians at Jena (1806). Prussian generals turned out to be cowards, and the Prussian army quickly disintegrated. Prussia had built a system of forts that were expected to provide a sturdy defense, but they generally surrendered without much resistance. Napoleon ordered that German-speaking states, including Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Nassau, and Berg, be combined to form the Confederation du Rhin--the Confederation of the Rhine. The French had already, in 1792, annexed territories west of the Rhine, notably Cologne and Mainz.

Napoleon dismissed corrupt old tyrants, an action that local people surely appreciated, but in many cases they were replaced by Napoleon's relatives, who became corrupt new tyrants. He imposed his Code Napoleon on conquered territories. Based on Roman law and some 14,000 decrees issued during the French Revolution, this was a simplified civil law code providing uniform rules for people to live by. Napoleon abolished the hodgepodge of feudal laws and customs. As historian J. M. Thompson noted, "The Code Napoleon contained less than 120,000 words and could be carried in the pocket."

Some 100,000 of Napoleon's troops occupied Prussia at the nation's expense. In 1807 he signed the Treaty of Tilsit with Russia, stripping Prussia of German-speaking provinces north and west of the lower Elbe River, and Polish provinces to the east.Altogether, Prussian territory was cut from 89,120 square miles to 46,032. Napoleon demanded that the Prussian government pay him 140 million francs. This amounted to a huge tax that devastated the economy. Making things worse was Napoleon's "Continental System," aimed at harming Britain by closing Europe's ports. The Continental System meant that Prussia couldn't earn its accustomed revenues from grain exports.

When Napoleon was paid off, he withdrew his forces from Prussia and turned his attention elsewhere, and the Prussian king pondered how his state might regain its place in the world. He was persuaded to name Karl vom Stein as chief minister. Stein was fascinated by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, who had urged dramatic reforms on the last French king to possess absolute power, Louis XVI. Stein persuaded Frederick William III to issue the Edict of Emancipation, in October 1807, which abolished feudal privileges and restrictions on the sale of land. In other words, he opened up property markets, erasing legal distinctions among aristocrats, merchants, or peasants. Stein also extended civil rights to Jews. He was convinced these reforms would unleash the energies of the people.

Prussia also reformed what was left of its army: ineffective officers were dismissed; junior officers were promoted on merit; army policies were adopted to improve efficiency. The long process of rebuilding got under way. The consequences of the Napoleonic Wars were devastating as they played out decades later in Prussia and throughout Europe.

The Napoleonic Wars themselves were bad enough. Historian Paul Johnson observed that the wars "set back the economic life of much of Europe for a generation. They made men behave like beasts, and worse. The battles were bigger and much more bloody. The armies of the old regimes were of long-service professional veterans, often lifers, obsessed with uniforms, pipe clay, polished brass, and their elaborate drill—the kings could not bear to lose them. Bonaparte cut off the pigtails, ended the powdered hair, supplied mass-produced uniforms and spent the lives of his young, conscripted recruits as though they were loose change. His insistence that they live off the land did not work in subsistence economies like Spain and Russia, where if the soldiers stole, the peasants starved. . . . Throughout Europe, the standards of human conduct declined as men and women, and their growing children, learned to live brutally."

The savagery was shocking. Reporting on Napoleon's campaign in Spain, historian Antonina Vallentin wrote: "French corpses piled up in the mountain ravines. . . . Drunk with fury against the servants of Christ who preached hatred, the French soldiers sacked the churches, carried away the objects of veneration, profaned the House. The village priests slaughtered the French who sought refuge among them. Farms were left burning like torches when the French had passed by. The wounded and the ill were murdered as they were being taken from one place to another. The roads were strewn with denuded corpses; the trees were weighed down with the bodies of men hanged; blind hate was loosed against hate, a nameless terror roamed the deserted countryside, death came slowly through the most frightful mutilations."

Napoleon's worst horrors occurred during the Russian campaign. In the spring of 1812, he assembled some 600,000 soldiers—his "Grand Army" including Prussians, Austrians, and Italians. They crossed the Niemen River, which flows from western Russia into the Baltic, and headed east in a front some 300 miles wide. Napoleon wanted a decisive battle that would force Czar Alexander I to become his subject, but the czar's forces harassed Napoleon's soldiers in skirmishes, then withdrew into the interior of the country, destroying fields, towns, and cities as they went, denying Napoleon the opportunity to replenish his supplies. The farther Napoleon advanced, the farther Russian forces withdrew, and the more devastation Napoleon encountered. His forces entered Smolensk, only to find it consumed by flames.

According to historian Christopher Herold, "The progress of his carriage along a road choked with limping cripples, stretchers, and ambulances set him into a somber mood. In Smolensk he passed carts loaded with amputated limbs. In the hospitals the surgeons ran out of dressings and used paper and birch bark fibers as substitutes; many of those who survived surgery died of starvation, for the supply service had virtually broken down. In addition to the battle casualties, hundreds of men fell victim to the Russian secret weapon, vodka, dying by the roadside from a combination of raw spirits and exposure. Such, it must be emphasized, was the condition of the Grand Army not during its tragic retreat but during its victorious advance."

Although Napoleon's supply lines were stretched to the limit, he could see that his forces would disintegrate if they spent the winter in Smolensk. He decided they must continue on to Moscow. The September 1812 Battle of Borodino was among the few engagements—there were some 30,000 French casualties and 45,000 Russian casualties. On September 14, Napoleon reached the outskirts of Moscow with about 90,000 soldiers. He stopped advancing and waited for a Russian delegation to surrender, but they never came. By the time Napoleon actually entered Moscow, it was burning.

French soldiers reveled in the riches they looted from the city, but they needed food. Foraging in the countryside yielded less and less. Their boots had worn out, and they had nothing else to wear. They didn't have winter clothing when the weather turned bitter cold in October. By then, Napoleon recognized that he had to retreat, and he headed for Smolensk. As his soldiers retreated, they were attacked by Cossack fighters and peasant guerrillas. One of Napoleon's generals, Philippe-Paul Segur, recalled that "the earth was littered with battered helmets and breastplates, broken drums, fragments of weapons, shreds of uniforms, and blood-stained flags. Lying amidst this desolation were half-devoured corpses."

The first heavy snowfall was on November 6. Segur wrote, "Objects changed their shape; we walked without knowing where we were or what lay ahead, and anything became an obstacle. . . . Yet the poor wretches [Napoleon's soldiers] dragged themselves along, shivering, with chattering teeth, until the snow packed under the soles of their boots, a bit of debris, a branch, or the body of a fallen comrade tripped them and threw them down. Then their moans for help went unheeded. The snow soon covered them up and only low white mounds showed where they lay." Cossack fighters and peasant guerrillas massacred the stragglers, and Russian armies joined the rout. When Napoleon's Grand Army had been reduced to about 9,000, he went ahead to raise another army in an effort to suppress Germans and other rebellious nationalities.

One of the most eloquent French liberals, Benjamin Constant, denounced Napoleon: "Are we here only to build, with our dying bodies, your road to fame? You have a genius for fighting; what good is it to us? You are bored by the inactivity of peace. Why should your boredom concern us? Learn civilization, if you wish to reign in a civilized age. Learn peace, if you wish to rule over peaceful peoples. Man from another world, stop despoiling this one."

Altogether, Napoleon's wars resulted in the deaths of some 2 million people. Undoubtedly the memories of Napoleonic war horrors convinced many people that they should refrain from war. In September 1814, five months after Napoleon's first abdication, European foreign ministers met at the Congress of Vienna to negotiate history's most comprehensive and successful peace treaty.

Laissez-Faire and Peace

Vivid memories of Napoleon's war horrors weren't the only reasons why the nineteenth century was comparatively peaceful. This was a period when the intellectual movement known as classical liberalism was in its heyday. Classical liberals cherished individual liberty, toleration, and peace, and to achieve these things they embraced constitutional limitations on government power.

These were radical ideas, because for centuries the prevailing view had been that private individuals couldn't be trusted to make their own choices. The fear was that if people were free to choose their church, or to buy and sell as they wished, there would be chaos. Hence it was thought that kings were needed to maintain order by enforcing religious and business monopolies. But by the 1700s it had become clear that government-enforced religious monopolies and business monopolies led to wars. Those who didn't agree with the church monopoly or the business monopoly had to fight or be crushed. As people grew weary of all the bloodshed, governments in western Europe gradually let people make more of their own choices, and there was more peace. The movement toward a separation of church and state meant that Roman Catholics could go to their places of worship, and Lutherans, Congregationalists, Quakers, and Jews to theirs, and none of them had to fight about it. There was harmony. Similarly, a separation of the economy and the state meant that increasingly people could do business where and with whom they wished, and business conflicts didn't have to cause military conflicts. The battle cry of eighteenth-century French liberals like Jacques Turgot was "Laissez faire!" which meant "Let it be!" Classical liberals began to sweep away thousands of taxes, tariffs, restrictions, and special privileges that had kept people down.

Throughout Europe, people debated and adopted written constitutions. The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by Charles-Louis Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, was an early discussion of constitutions that inspired America's founders to develop a modern constitution for a large country. Another influential Frenchman, Benjamin Constant, had witnessed the horrors of the French Revolution as well as the horrors of Napoleon. He recognized that for liberty to flourish, government power must be limited, whether it was exercised in the name of the king or of the people.

Ironically, although Britain didn't have a written constitution, its unwritten scheme, which evolved over the centuries, influenced people everywhere. According to historian Carleton J. H. Hayes: "The English system of government--with its full complement of a bill of rights, a king who reigned but did not rule, a parliament which levied the taxes and made the laws, and a ruling ministry responsible to the parliament—all this had been formally embodied in written constitutions in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Austria and Hungary. In France, where there had been a plethora of written constitutions ever since the revolutionary days of 1791, the English system finally prevailed in the 'constitutional laws' of 1875, except that the titular head was a president instead of a king. Written constitutions obtained in other countries, but while they provided for parliaments and ministries more or less in the English fashion, they usually left the ministry responsible to the monarch rather than to the parliament."

It was during the nineteenth century that the West became the first civilization to abolish slavery on its own initiative. Thomas Sowell observed that "although Western Europeans had for centuries enslaved principally the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, by the time the Western Hemisphere was discovered and conquered, Africa was one of the few remaining areas of the world where massive enslavement continued to be feasible. After still more centuries, however, the ideological contradiction between the European conception of freedom and the brutal reality of their enslavement of Africans began to produce, first in Britain and later in other European and European-offshoot nations, a growing political opposition to slavery as such—the first such mass opposition to this ancient institution in the history of the world. Because this moral opposition developed within countries with overwhelming military power and worldwide imperial hegemony, slavery came under growing pressure all over the planet—and was eventually destroyed by Europeans, despite opposition within their own ranks, as well as opposition and evasion by virtually every non-European civilization."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : arrogance and power 1
1 How did that monstrous war happen? 17
2 Why was the war stalemated for three years? 54
3 Why did Wilson decide he must break the stalemate? 73
4 Why did Wilson pressure and bribe the Russian provisional government to stay in the war? 100
5 Why did Wilson assume his allies would not demand vindictive surrender terms from Germany? 132
6 Why did Wilson ignore the risk of violent socialist revolution in Russia? 163
7 How did Hitler exploit Wilson's blunder to recruit 50,000 Nazis? 183
8 How did Lenin take advantage of Wilson's blunder and secure power? 203
9 How did Wilson's fatal decisions pave the way for the Nazi regime? 226
10 How did Wilson make possible Stalin's terror? 254
11 Why is World War II part of Wilson's legacy? 280
Conclusion : how can we avoid a blunder like Wilson's? 290
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2005

    Poorly researched, poorly written

    In ¿Wilson¿s War¿ author Jim Powell has done the impossible; written a book that makes Hillary Clinton¿s reactionary screed ¿It Takes a Village¿ look like a model of good prose in comparison. His writing is stunted and childish; his liberal use of exclamation points does not give the reader a sense of heightened importance; it gives the reader a sense that he¿s reading a fifth grader¿s history paper. The entire premise of the book ¿ that Wilson¿s foreign policy blunders led to the rise of Nazism and Communism and their subsequent bloodbaths ¿ is a huge, illogical leap, to say the least. It reminds one of the Saturday Night Live skit where George Bush, Sr. is trying to take credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall. (¿Before George Bush¿Berlin Wall¿after George Bush¿no more wall.¿) While that may be good for a chuckle in a comedy skit, it hardly makes for a scholarly tome. (Before Wilson¿no Nazis¿after Wilson¿Nazis¿) While I agree with Mr. Powell that Woodrow Wilson was a man whose arrogance and thirst for power far outstripped his intelligence, to lay the blame for the Nazi and Communist horrors directly at his feet is illogical. William Graham Sumner noted of the German people in late 1890s that they were ready for a dictator. The Germans and Russians were ready for their respective socialist tyrants long before Hitler and Lenin came on stage. Wilson¿s foreign policy blunders may well have been a contributing factor, but they were far from the only influence on events. I would not recommend this book.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2005

    Worst President? Maybe.

    Jim Powell, in his book 'Wilson's War', raises a legitimate question. Can we really hold Mr. Wilson accountable for the twin evils of Nazism and Soviet Communism? Both are generally acknowledged as consequences of The Great War but are they consequences of just one facet of that war, namely the U.S. intervention? Though he makes some inroads toward an answer, Mr. Powell spends much of the book describing the rise to power of Lenin, Hitler and Stalin and the atrocities they committed. The deeds these men caused to be done were horrific, but they are irrelevant to the premise of this book. Would they have been prevented if Mr. Wilson had not asked Congress for a Declaration of War in 1917? This is the case Mr. Powell needs to make. Unfortunately, what we get for the most part, in ¿Wilson¿s War¿ is the simple assumption: without U.S. intervention there would be no Hitler or Stalin. This assumption is definitely debatable. A thorough exploration of the possible fates of Germany and Russia sans U.S. intervention might have helped Mr. Powell¿s case far more than assumptions and re-stating facts. Mr. Wilson¿s presidency needs a serious re-examination in a popular history format. The myth of the idealistic crusader has overwhelmed the truth of the arrogant, ineffective interventionist and the bigoted, strict segregationist. This book is not that re-examination. ¿Wilson¿s War¿ is an attempt to use history to further a political agenda. Mr. Powell¿s libertarian leanings are apparent throughout the book and are expressed clearly in his conclusion. His writing style is unsophisticated and occasionally repetitive. These qualities will undoubtedly cause many people to dismiss his book. That¿s unfortunate, I think, because the questions raised deserve thought and discussion. ¿Wilson¿s War¿ is far from a perfect book but as the opening broadside of a debate on the accountability of President Wilson for many of the ills of the 20th century, it is worth reading.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    Responsibility and Office

    Wilson, as President of the United States of America, held a position of great power and responsibility. The government, and its chief officer, are responsible for the safety and security of the nation. Powell does a credible job of demonstrating Wilson's mishandling of his office and responsibilities in advancing his ideology without respect to the magnitude of the dangers or understanding the leaders and countries with whom he dealt. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    A reviewer

    Woodrow Wilson was a great American president...'pause'...NOT! But he defended America and saved the world from tyrany and despotism! Or did he? Jim Powell provides the account that your history teacher does not want you to read. Find out why Wilson really dragged America into the war, and what were the consequences. Powell considers the likely counterfactual scenario drawing upon war-time conditions prior to US entry. Contrary to misguided popular opinion, a Central Powers victory was not in the cards, but a solitary German victory would at this point have been too close at this point and would resemble a stalemate. The resulting peace would have lacked revanchist treaties. But what about the Lusitania or the Zimmerman Note? The Lusitania, that supposedly civilian ocean liner carried an explosive cargo 'hence why it sank'. Unrestricted submarine warfare is not meant to cause large civilian casualties, but to destroy shipping 'and sink/ward off naval vessels'. Ordinarily a torpedoed ship sinks slowly enough to allow passengers to escape, but not if carrying esplosive munitions for the Entente Powers. The Kaiser announced the sub blocade in advance and the German government even placed notices in American newspapers to warn citizens against traveling in blocaded waters. The Zimmerman Telegram was widely believed to be a British hoax even though a few Americans 'notably Wilson' believed it to be real 'albeit correctly'. Even so, the military preparedness of Mexico was poor at the time, and the telegram explicitly requested Mexico to attack the US *only* in the event that the US joined the Entente against Germany. Arthur Zimmerman surprised the world when he confessed to the authenticity of the message, but made clear his intent was to preserve American neutrality. In short, this book provides an excellent introduction and a persuasive case for why Wilson was the worst president ever. Nonetheless, it was somewhat thin in places. For instance, it focuses on American involvement 'specifically Wilson', as the title implies, but does not give a detailed account of the British and French in their role in the war 'and in inadvertedly helping Lenin gain power'. For a more thourough examination of the 'mis'deeds of the Western Allies in WW1, I recommend 'Illusions of Victory' by T. Fleming.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2007

    Breath of Fresh Air

    Libertarian Jim Powell sheds light on an American 'hero' and reveals the ugly truth about Woodrow Wilson. Essentially, Wilson's decision to enter Europe's Great War was one of the greatest blunders of the 20th century. This blunder sealed a decisive Allied victory and lead to the various calamities of the last century including, the rise of Communism and Nazism, the Red Scare, WW2, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Ripples of this frivolous conflict echo to the 21st century (the Mideast situation linked partly to the aftermath of WW1). Essentially, three major aspects of World War One's outcome paved the way for further tragedy. Namely, the Bolshevik coup in Russia, the Versaille Treaty, and the postwar Middle East situation following the end of the Ottoman Empire. Through Wilson's needless intervention, he facilitated the aforementioned events. Of course, the blame need not rest completely on Wilson as no doubt the Kaiser's government made some strategic blunders, and the leadership was in a state of corruption and ineptness leading to its eventual collapse. Needless to say, the Western powers appeared to be on the brink of stalemate. Until Woodrow Wilson arrived, pressuring the Germans to smuggle Vlad Lenin from his Swiss exile into Russia, and leading to an all-out Entente total victory and the infamous Treaty of Versaille. The important lesson I drew from the book, however is that the Monroe Doctrine was the way to go! America could have easily stayed neutral but Wilson had to drag the United States into the war. But this one action broke America's non-interventionist tradition. Following that we HAD to get involved in foreign conflicts (WW2, Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc.)!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    This is simply awful writing. I am as conservative as they come

    This is simply awful writing. I am as conservative as they come but the relentless blaming of Wilson for the ills of the world in the 20th century is hard enough to take seriously. Unsupported assertions like "had America remained truly neutral, German submarines would have taken care to avoid American ships" with nothing to support gives this book a very editorialized feel. At what point in history are belligerents held accountable for their own actions and not dropped on Woodrow Wilson. The naked aggression of Germany in 1914 in invading Belgium as a means to attack France is an act they took alone and thought they had well prepared for. Mr. 
    Powell seems to not understand that. Consequences for one's decisions and actions are always quite clear in hindsight. Presupposing favorable outcomes baed on one's unsupported positions are dangerous. Do I think mistakes were made? Absolutely yes. Many of the sources Mr. Powell quotes are European historians like MacMillan normally are upfront that France and Britains leaders were influenced by past conflicts on the continent and were highly concerned by perception by their citizens. I would not recommend this book to anyone and feel very stupid for making this purchase. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    History is soo much fun.

    It is

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    Posted January 22, 2010

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    Posted December 26, 2010

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    Posted October 11, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2010

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    Posted February 18, 2011

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