Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency

Overview

Before Woodrow Wilson became president of the United States, he spent 25 years at Princeton University, first as an undergraduate, then professor, and finally as president. His experiences at the helm of Princeton—where he enjoyed four productive years followed by four years of wrangling and intense acrimony—reveal much about the kind of man he was and how he earned a reputation as a fearless crusader. This engrossing book focuses on how Wilson’s Princeton years influenced the ideas and worldview he later applied...

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Overview

Before Woodrow Wilson became president of the United States, he spent 25 years at Princeton University, first as an undergraduate, then professor, and finally as president. His experiences at the helm of Princeton—where he enjoyed four productive years followed by four years of wrangling and intense acrimony—reveal much about the kind of man he was and how he earned a reputation as a fearless crusader. This engrossing book focuses on how Wilson’s Princeton years influenced the ideas and worldview he later applied in politics. His career in the White House, W. Barksdale Maynard shows, repeated with uncanny precision his Princeton experiences.

The book recounts how Wilson’s inspired period of building, expansion, and intellectual fervor at Princeton deteriorated into one of the most famous academic disputes in American history. His battle to abolish elitist eating clubs and establish a more egalitarian system culminated in his defeat and dismissal, and the ruthlessness of his tactics alienated even longtime friends. So extreme was his behavior, some historians have wondered whether he suffered a stroke. Maynard sheds new light on this question, on Wilson’s temper, and on other aspects of his strengths and shortcomings. The book provides an unprecedented inside view of a hard-fighting president—a man who tried first to remake a university and then to remake the world.

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Editorial Reviews

History: Reviews of New Books

"Anyone who has attempted to comprehend Wilson''s personality, ideology, and behavior will appreciate the importance of Maynard''s contribution. . . . An essential book for all readers who seek to understand presidential character and its impact."--Lloyd Ambrosius, History: Reviews of New Books

— Lloyd Ambrosius

Journal of American History

"A worthy contribution to Wilson''s biography."--Robert C. Hilderbrand, Journal of American History

— Robert C. Hilderbrand

James A. Baker

“Barksdale Maynard has done a masterful job of capturing an untold story of one of America’s most interesting, and perhaps, enigmatic, presidents. Woodrow Wilson’s formative years at Princeton University served as a training ground for his tumultuous years in the White House. Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency is not only a superb piece of research, it will prove to be a page-turner for those who want greater insight to this complex man.”—James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State
Bill Bradley

“Maynard provides us with a fascinating account of our 28th President’s life from his time as a student, through his tenure as Princeton University’s President, and up until the day he died. A superb biography.”—Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley

George F. Will

“Woodrow Wilson's complex personality shaped his tumultuous tenure as president of Princeton, which propelled him into politics. The radiating consequences of America's only professor-president still shape American politics and policy. Hence the high value of Barksdale Maynard's mind-opening study of Wilson's formative experiences in academia.” — George F. Will
James M. McPherson

“This poignant biography of the man who coined the phrase ‘Princeton in the nation’s service’ shows how much Woodrow Wilson’s experiences at Princeton as a student, professor, and president foreshadowed and molded his tragic career as a national and world leader.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
Lewis Gould

“Maynard provides an absorbing account of crucial events in the life of an important American political leader. His book is a significant addition to the literature on Wilson.”—Lewis Gould, University of Texas

James Axtell

“A fast-paced, well-conceived, and well-written biographical treatment of Wilson.”—James Axtell, College of William and Mary
History: Reviews of New Books - Lloyd Ambrosius

"Anyone who has attempted to comprehend Wilson's personality, ideology, and behavior will appreciate the importance of Maynard's contribution. . . . An essential book for all readers who seek to understand presidential character and its impact."--Lloyd Ambrosius, History: Reviews of New Books
Journal of American History - Robert C. Hilderbrand

"A worthy contribution to Wilson's biography."--Robert C. Hilderbrand, Journal of American History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300136043
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

W. Barksdale Maynard is lecturer in the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University. He lives in Wilmington, DE.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Undergraduate and Professor, 1875-1902

Ch. 1 The Debater 3

Ch. 2 The Study of Books and Men 20

Ch. 3 Who Shall Show Us the Way? 42

Pt. 2 New Princeton President, 1902-7

Ch. 4 Like a New Prime Minister 65

Ch. 5 Adding a Thousand Years of History 83

Ch. 6 Fifty Stiffs to Make Us Wise 96

Pt. 3 The Quad Fight, 1907-8

Ch. 7 The Pleasantest Country Club in America 113

Ch. 8 The Quad Plan 129

Ch. 9 Aristocracy of the Stomach 140

Ch. 10 The Brutus of the Conspiracy 152

Ch. 11 I Am a Good Fighter, Gentlemen 168

Pt. 4 The Battle of Princeton, 1908-10

Ch. 12 We Must See Who Is Master 195

Ch. 13 The Owl, the Eel, and the Soap-Fat Man 211

Ch. 14 Licked by Ten Millions 226

Pt. 5 Governor, President - and Aftermath, 1910-24

Ch. 15 Kicked Upstairs 243

Ch. 16 Big Three Election 262

Ch. 17 The Loneliest Place in the World 279

Ch. 18 The Old College Life Is All Shot to Hell 298

Ch. 19 And After That the Dark 317

Abbreviations 343

Bibliography 369

Illustration Credits 382

Index 383

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A page turner

    Maynard has given us a fresh and facinating account of Wilson's ill-fated career at Princeton and later as U.S. president. The narrative is thoroughly documented, well illustrated and includes many insights and observations that bring the drama to life. The presentation is even-handed, looking at all sides of the many issues Wilson was involved in.

    Several biographies of Wilson have already been written, and no doubt there will be more to come. I suspect that Maynard's excellent work will become the standard by which all others must be judged.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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