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Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

3.3 19
by John Milton Cooper

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The first major biography of America’s twenty-eighth president in nearly two decades, from one of America’s foremost Woodrow Wilson scholars.

A Democrat who reclaimed the White House after sixteen years of Republican administrations, Wilson was a transformative president—he helped create the regulatory bodies and legislation that prefigured


The first major biography of America’s twenty-eighth president in nearly two decades, from one of America’s foremost Woodrow Wilson scholars.

A Democrat who reclaimed the White House after sixteen years of Republican administrations, Wilson was a transformative president—he helped create the regulatory bodies and legislation that prefigured FDR’s New Deal and would prove central to governance through the early twenty-first century, including the Federal Reserve system and the Clayton Antitrust Act; he guided the nation through World War I; and, although his advocacy in favor of joining the League of Nations proved unsuccessful, he nonetheless established a new way of thinking about international relations that would carry America into the United Nations era. Yet Wilson also steadfastly resisted progress for civil rights, while his attorney general launched an aggressive attack on civil liberties.

Even as he reminds us of the foundational scope of Wilson’s domestic policy achievements, John Milton Cooper, Jr., reshapes our understanding of the man himself: his Wilson is warm and gracious—not at all the dour puritan of popular imagination. As the president of Princeton, his encounters with the often rancorous battles of academe prepared him for state and national politics. Just two years after he was elected governor of New Jersey, Wilson, now a leader in the progressive movement, won the Democratic presidential nomination and went on to defeat Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in one of the twentieth century’s most memorable presidential elections. Ever the professor, Wilson relied on the strength of his intellectual convictions and the power of reason to win over the American people.

John Milton Cooper, Jr., gives us a vigorous, lasting record of Wilson’s life and achievements. This is a long overdue, revelatory portrait of one of our most important presidents—particularly resonant now, as another president seeks to change the way government relates to the people and regulates the economy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Cooper’s much-anticipated biography finally gives Wilson his due. The preeminent living historian of Wilson and his era, Cooper has studied the man an his times for decades . . . he now presents us with his magnum opus. The book is deeply, indeed exhaustively researched, and beautifully, often movingly narrated. It is far and away the best biography of the 28th president we have, and as such it is unlikely to be surpassed.”  —Boston Globe
“Cooper’s monumental new biography seeks to revive Wilson for the 21st century—not simply to narrate a presidential life, but to explain why he deserves our national esteem….An admiring and engaging work of presidential revisionism. . . . A powerful, deeply researched and highly readable case for keeping Wilson in the top ranks of American presidents.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Wilson comes alive in Cooper’s insightful and important biography. . . . It’s easy to see why Wilson captures many imaginations. We still want to believe what Wilson believed: that there is a common right, that we can find it, and that it matters most of all.” —Newsweek
“Cooper clearly admires his subject but is not blind to his faults. His is a nuanced portrait of the 28th president. . . . It also offers lessons for another intellectual professor-turned-president, who combines principle with pragmatism. He, Wilson, and Teddy Roosevelt are the only presidents to receive a Nobel Peace Prize while still in office.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A noted Woodrow Wilson expert comprehensively examines the life and career of America’s 28th president. . . . Cooper exhibits complete command of his materials, a sure knowledge of the man and a nuanced understanding of a presidency almost Shakespearean in its dimensions.”  —Kirkus (Starred review)
“[O]ur leading Wilson authority . . . offers a comprehensive, felicitously written biography aimed at scholars but accessible to general readers, too. . . . He admires Wilson for his faith, learning, eloquence, and executive skill while conceding that he had to learn foreign policy on the job—yet established America as an international player.” —Library Journal (Starred review)
“In this spellbinding new biography, sure to take its place as the definitive one volume life, John Milton Cooper rescues Woodrow Wilson from historical caricature. He gives us the Progressive champion whose New Freedom transformed the role of government and offered later presidents—FDR and LBJ come to mind—a textbook example of presidential persuasion and legislative mastery. Behind Wilsonian idealism is Wilson the idealist—a man of soaring vision and tragic blind spots, furtive charm and unbridled passions, global ambitions and unyielding enmities. Crafted with a scholarship and eloquence worthy of its subject, Cooper’s Wilson is intensely moving, sometimes infuriating, and surprisingly contemporary. Above all, it lives.” —Richard Norton Smith, author of Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation
“None of our most consequential presidents have been as elusive as Woodrow Wilson. But in this wise and often moving work, John Milton Cooper, Jr. takes his full measure—as scholar and orator, personality and politician, visionary and statesman. It is a triumph of American biography, both deeply learned and gracefully crafted.” —Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
“John Cooper’s Wilson is the triumphant product of a dedicated life’s work. Cooper has earlier written, with insight and authority, The Warrior and the Priest, a comparison of T.R. and Wilson, and Breaking the Heart of the World, a study of the making and rejection of the Treaty of Versailles. In the process of preparing those absorbing works and going on to write this incomparable biography, Cooper has read everything significant that Wilson ever wrote, from love letters to political theory, and also read everything significant that has been written about Wilson. He has now utilized his unequalled learning in his interpretations and evaluations of Wilson’s life, the subject of this sprightly, authoritative, and eminently readable book.” —John Blum, author of V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II
“A landmark work, the best one-volume biography ever written about the 28th president, and political history as its finest.  With great deftness, Cooper describes and evaluates Wilson’s personality and intellect, in ways that will surprise many readers. He thereby illuminates the idealism and tragedy, the insight and the blindness, of one of the monumental figures in the nation’s history.” —Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
“John Milton Cooper has given us a rich and thoughtful portrait of a transformative, controversial and resonant president.  Americans who remember Woodrow Wilson as a dour scholar-president will find a vastly more complicated and fascinating man in the pages of Cooper's sweeping new book.” —Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion
 “There is no more accomplished Woodrow Wilson scholar than John Milton Cooper, and this magisterial, judicious, deeply researched book—the culmination of decades of study—shows the author at the zenith of his powers. Cooper’s book demonstrates Wilson’s importance to our own generation, and his powerful judgments will shape the way we view the 28th President for a very long time.” —Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage
“Woodrow Wilson continues to intrigue—and divide—us. At once an idealist expressing the noblest of liberal sentiments and a racist, an intellectual and a skilled politician, a man capable of great kindness and great vindictiveness—John Milton Cooper's masterly biography describes him warts and all. A full and fascinating study of the man and his turbulent times.” —Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919
 “A riveting account of one of America’s most intellectually magnetic, yet also enigmatic, presidents. John Milton Cooper Jr. does a superb job of  portraying the aspirations of Wilson’s idealistic internationalism while at the same time detailing the realistic pitfalls that helped undermine it. Cooper has provided a fascinating read for those who want to understand a presidency that helped set the tone for U.S. foreign policy in the 20th Century.” —James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State

“John Milton Cooper has written an important biography about a man who made—and continues to make—a large difference.  An enjoyable and enlightening read.” —George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State
“A rich and readable study by a leading historian who has made Wilson and his times his life work.  A fine combination of sound scholarship and compelling narrative.” —James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom 1940–1945
“Of all the important presidents of the 20th century, Woodrow Wilson has always been the least-known and seemed the least-knowable. Now, John Milton Cooper, Jr., has written a crisp clear eyed account of the life of this extraordinary but deeply flawed leader who began his career as a dynamic far-seeing reformer and  ended it short-sighted and delusional. It is a Shakespearean story, beautifully and sensitively told by one of our finest historians.” —Geoffrey C. Ward, author of A First Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Beverly Gage
Woodrow Wilson, John Milton Cooper Jr.'s monumental new biography, seeks to revive Wilson for the 21st century—not simply to narrate a presidential life, but to explain why he deserves our national esteem…admiring and engaging work of presidential revisionism…Cooper presents a powerful, deeply researched and highly readable case for keeping Wilson in the top ranks of American presidents
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
If we must have another presidential biography, best to have one of a figure who hasn't had his life written about at length for two decades. While the Wilson we find here differs little from the man we've known before, Cooper's new book is an authoritative, up-to-date study of the great president. Cooper (Breaking the Heart of the World), a noted Wilson expert at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, offers balanced and judicious assessments of the life and career of one of the nation's most controversial leaders. From his youth in Virginia, through his years at Princeton, then as New Jersey governor and president, Wilson faced thickets of challenges, not all of which he managed effectively. At the end, sick and weakened, characteristically stubborn and moralistic, he notoriously failed to gain American membership in the League of Nations. Yet Cooper, while sympathetic to his subject—a visionary and Progressive reformer in domestic politics—fairly records Wilson's Southern racism along with his keen intellect and political acuity. Wilson would come to be, Cooper concludes, “one of the best remembered and argued over of all presidents.” While not stemming any disputes, this book will please and inform all readers. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 2)
Library Journal
Cooper (history, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Breaking the Heart of the World), arguably our leading Wilson authority, offers a comprehensive, felicitously written biography aimed at scholars but accessible to general readers, too. As Cooper notes, this "schoolmaster in politics" transmitted his thoughts on paper—a habit helpful to historians. Cooper mines Wilson's letters as well as the archival materials of Wilson colleagues. He admires Wilson for his faith, learning, eloquence, and executive skill while conceding that he had to learn foreign policy on the job—yet established America as an international player. Cooper considers Wilson hard-headed, with limited goals (World War I concluded not with total victory but with an armistice to save as many lives as possible). Unlike other scholars, Cooper claims that the Virginia-born Wilson was not an "obsessed white supremacist" but that his collegial governing style allowed cabinet members to introduce segregation throughout the federal government. And while his attorneys general violated civil liberties both during and after wartime, Cooper claims that FDR's abuses were even worse. VERDICT Highly recommended; readers are invited to wrestle with Cooper's favorable interpretation of Wilson's legacy and arrive at their own conclusions.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress
Kirkus Reviews
A noted Woodrow Wilson expert comprehensively examines the life and career of America's 28th president. Generally acknowledged among the country's great presidents, Wilson's proper placement within the pantheon nevertheless creates more argument among scholars than perhaps any other. While acknowledging Wilson's dismal record on race and civil liberties, Cooper (History/Univ. of Wisconsin; Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson, 2008, etc.) comes down firmly on the president's side, rejecting the caricature of the high-minded intellectual out of his depth in the messy political arena. The author believes, as Wilson himself did, that his academic background-first as an exceedingly popular professor, then as Princeton's reform-minded president-prepared him perfectly for the political battles he later faced as New Jersey's governor and, of course, as president. Above all, Cooper stresses, Wilson was a teacher, his goal not so much to inspire the American people in the fashion of his greatest rival, Teddy Roosevelt, but rather to educate them, appealing to public opinion through his writing and oratory. Domestically, he enacted progressive legislation that prefigured some of the New Deal. After maneuvering to keep the country neutral during World War I-he was narrowly reelected on the slogan, "He kept us out of war"-Wilson proved a surprisingly energetic commander in chief. By the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, he was arguably the world's most acclaimed leader, but from there his presidency turned tragic. In part because of his disinclination to compromise, but largely because of a debilitating stroke that literally paralyzed his last year and a half in office, Wilson failed to persuade Congress toratify the Treaty of Versailles or to join the League of Nations. Cooper is especially good on this "worst crisis of presidential disability in American history"; Wilson's uncommonly close attachment to the women in his life; his Civil War-era boyhood in Virginia; the battle for educational reform at Princeton; and the role played by important presidential advisors like Joe Tumulty and Colonel House. Cooper exhibits complete command of his materials, a sure knowledge of the man and a nuanced understanding of a presidency almost Shakespearean in its dimensions. Author tour to Chicago, Madison, Wis., New York, Washington, D.C. Agent: Alexander Hoyt/Alexander Hoyt Associates

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt


Each year, in the morning on December 28, a military honor guard carrying the American flag presents a wreath that bears the words “The President.” Accompanying the honor guard are members of the clergy, who carry a cross and say a prayer. The clergy are present because the wreathlaying ceremony takes place in front of a tomb in the Washington National Cathedral. Since the day is only a week after the winter solstice, the low angle of the morning sun causes bright colors from the stained glass windows to play across the floor of the alcove where the tomb is located, over the stone sarcophagus, and on the words carved on the walls. The alcove contains two flags, the Stars and Stripes and the orange and black–shielded ensign of Princeton University. The wreath laying takes place on the birthday, and at the final resting place, of the thirteenth president of Princeton and twenty-eighth president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson.

The ceremony and the tomb capture much about this man. The military presence is fitting because Wilson led the nation through World War I. The religious setting is equally fitting because no president impressed people more strongly as a man of faith than Wilson did. His resting place makes him the only president buried inside a church and the  only one buried in Washington. The university flag attests to his career in higher education before he entered public life. Wilson remains the only professional academic and the only holder of the Ph.D. degree to become president. The inscriptions on the alcove walls come from his speeches as president and afterward. Wilson made words central to all that he did as a scholar, teacher, educational administrator, and political leader; he was the next to last president to write his own speeches. No other president has combined such varied and divergent elements of learning, eloquence, religion, and war.

In 1927, three years after Wilson’s death, Winston Churchill declared, “Writing with every sense of respect, it seems no exaggeration to pronounce that the action of the United States with its repercussions on the history of the world depended, during the awful period of Armageddon, on the workings of this man’s mind and spirit to the exclusion of every other factor; and that he played a part in the fate of nations incomparably more direct and personal than any other man.” Churchill was referring to the part that Wilson played in World War I and above all, his decision in 1917 to intervene on the side of the Allies. That was the biggest decision Wilson ever made, and much of what has happened in the world since then has flowed from that decision. Unlike the other American wars of the last century, this one came neither in response to a direct attack on the nation’s soil, as with World War II and Pearl Harbor and the attacks of September 11, nor as a war of choice, as with the Gulf War and the Iraq War, nor as a smaller episode in a grand global struggle, as with the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Many have argued that the United States joined the Allies in 1917 because great underlying forces and interests involving money, ties of blood and culture, and threats to security and cherished values were “really” at work. Perhaps so, perhaps not, but one incontrovertible fact remains: the United States entered World War I because Woodrow Wilson decided to take the country in.

Despite his deep religious faith, he did not go to war in 1917 because he thought God was telling him to do it. When someone telegraphed him to demand, “In the name of God and humanity, declare war on Germany,” Wilson’s stenographer wrote in his diary that the president scoffed, “War isn’t declared in the name of God; it is a human affair entirely.” To Wilson, as an educated, orthodox Christian, the notion that any person could presume to know God’s will was blasphemy. Likewise, as someone born and raised in the least evangelical and most God-centered of Protestant denominations, the Presbyterian, the notion of a personal relationship with the Almighty was foreign to him. Three months after the outbreak of World War I in Europe and at a time when he was enduring agonies of grief after the death of his first wife, he told a YMCA gathering, “For one, I am not fond of thinking about Christianity as a means of saving individual souls.”

Wilson practiced a severe separation not only between church and state but also between religion and society. Unlike his greatest rival, Theodore Roosevelt, he never compared politics with preaching. Unlike the other great leader of his Democratic Party, William Jennings Bryan, he never supported the greatest moral reform crusade of their time—prohibition. Also unlike Bryan, he saw no conflict between modern science and the Bible, and he despised early manifestations of what came to be called Fundamentalism. By the same token, however, he had little truck with the major liberal religious reform movement, the Social Gospel. Wilson remained a strong Presbyterian, but his second wife was an Episcopalian who continued to worship in her own church. He was the first president to visit the pope in the Vatican. He counted Catholics and Jews among his closest political associates, and he appointed and fought to confirm the first Jew to the Supreme Court, Louis D. Brandeis.

A person with that kind of religious background and outlook could never be either of the two things that many people would charge him with being—a secular messiah or a naïve, woolly-headed idealist. Wilson was bold, extremely sure of himself, and often stubborn, and he did think of himself as an instrument of God’s will. But according to his beliefs, every person was an instrument of God’s will, and even his own defeats and disappointments were manifestations of the purposes of the Almighty. Such an outlook left no room for messianic delusions. It did leave room for idealism, but that did not distinguish him from the other leading politicians of his time. Except for a few crass machine types and hard-bitten conservatives, all the major figures in public life during the first two decades of the twentieth century proclaimed themselves idealists. Roosevelt and Bryan did so proudly, and nothing infuriated Roosevelt more than to hear Wilson called an idealist. Moreover, this was, as Richard Hofstadter characterized it, “the age of reform.” Prohibition, woman suffrage, anti-vice campaigns, social settlement houses, educational uplift, and an embracing set of political movements loosely gathered under the umbrella of “progressivism” were the order of the day. In that context, Wilson came off as one of the most careful, hardheaded, and sophisticated idealists of his time.

His circumspection extended to foreign as well as domestic affairs. By his own admission, he did not enter the White House with much of what he called “preparation” in foreign affairs. As a scholar, he had studied and written almost exclusively about domestic politics, and the only office he had held before coming to Washington was a state governorship. Even before the outbreak of World War I, two years into his presidency, he began to deal with problems abroad, particularly fallout from the violent revolution next door in Mexico. Wilson had to learn diplomacy on the job, and he made mistakes, particularly in Mexico, where he originally did harbor some facile notions about promoting democracy. He learned hard lessons there, which he applied later in dealing with both the world war and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

Like others at the time, Wilson invested American intervention in the world war with larger ideological significance and purpose. But he had no illusions about leading a worldwide crusade to impose democracy. The most famous phrase from his speech to Congress in 1917 asking for war read, “The world must be made safe for democracy”—perhaps the most significant choice of the passive voice by any president. A year later, speaking to foreign journalists, he declared, “There isn’t any one kind of government which we have the right to impose upon any nation. So that I am not fighting for democracy except for those peoples that want democracy.” Wilson did not coin the term self-determination—that came from the British prime minister David Lloyd George, who also coined the phrase “war to end all wars,” words Wilson probably never uttered. Later, he did sparingly adopt “self-determination,” but always as something to be applied carefully and contingently, never as a general principle for all times and places.

Wilson’s most renowned policy statement, the Fourteen Points, addressed specific problems of the time as much as larger conditions. Half of the points addressed general matters—such as open covenants of peace, freedom of the seas, and an international organization to maintain peace, all carefully couched as aims to be pursued over time. The other half dealt with specific issues of the war—such as the restoration of Belgium, an independent Poland, the integrity of Russia, and the matter of autonomy—but not necessarily in specific terms—so, for example, there is no mention of independence for subject peoples of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Wilson’s moral authority and America’s lesser taint of imperialism made the soberly stated Fourteen Points a rallying ground for liberals and progressives throughout the world, but if he could have heard the ways later generations would use “Wilsonian” as an epithet to scorn naïve efforts to spread democracy in the world, he might have echoed Marx’s disclaimer that he was no Marxist, just Karl Marx: he was no Wilsonian, just Woodrow Wilson.

In World War I, he fought a limited war, though not in the usual sense of a war fought with limited means and in a limited geographic area. He fought with all the means at his disposal for limited aims—something less than total, crushing victory. This was a delicate task, but he succeeded to a remarkable extent. In just over a year and a half, the United States raised an army of more than 4 million men and armed and sent 2 million of them to fight on the Western Front. This miracle of mobilization foiled the hopes of the Germans and allayed the fears of the Allies that the war would be over before the Yanks could arrive. Feats of industrial, agricultural, and logistic transportation organization speeded the arrival of those “doughboys.” Those accomplishments dovetailed with the president’s liberal program to persuade the Germans to sue for peace in November 1918 rather than fight on to the bitter end, as they would do a quarter century later. This was Wilson’s greatest triumph. He shortened World War I, and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people owed their lives to him.

Tragically, his greatest triumph sowed the seeds of his greatest defeat. For the men and women who wanted to build a new, just, peaceful world order, World War I ended in the worst possible way—neither as a compromise accepted by equals nor as an edict imposed upon the defeated foe. One of those alternatives might have offered Wilson a chance to make his ideas of peace work. Instead, he tried to thrash out the best settlement he could through arduous negotiations at the peace conference in Paris in 1919. Those negotiations wore him out physically and emotionally and produced the Treaty of Versailles, which left sore winners and unrepentant losers. This peace settlement might have had a chance to work if the victors had stuck by it in years to come, but they soon showed they would not. The first of the victors to renege was the United States, which never ratified the Treaty of Versailles and never joined the organization that Wilson helped establish to maintain the peace, the League of Nations.

The decisions he made in waging war and making peace have stirred almost as much argument as his decision to enter the war. The Fourteen Points drew fire as obstacles to total victory, and such attacks would spawn the next generation’s misguided consensus that World War II must end only with “unconditional surrender.” Wilson’s part in the peace negotiations at Paris has drawn fire as a quixotic quest after the mirage of collective security through the League of Nations, an allegedly utopian, or “Wilsonian,” endeavor that traded vague dreams for harsh realities and derailed a more realistic settlement, which might have lasted. Worst of all, arguments about the political fight at home over the treaty and membership in the League have cast him as a stubborn, self-righteous spoiler who blocked reasonable compromises. That view of him has often overlooked or minimized one glaring fact: in the middle of this fight, he suffered a stroke that left him an invalid for his last year and a half in office. Wilson’s stroke caused the worst crisis of presidential disability in American history, and it had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect on him. Out of a dynamic, resourceful leader emerged an emotionally unstable, delusional creature.

Meet the Author

John Milton Cooper, Jr., is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of Breaking the Heart of the World: Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations and The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, among other books. He was recently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Woodrow Wilson 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
KA-Swenson More than 1 year ago
A balanced, soundly researched depiction of an enigmatic, yet underappreciated, statesmen ~ few finer men have held the office of President.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Woodrow Wilson: A biography by John Milton Cooper was a bit of a disappointment. As an average person genuinely interested in Woodrow Wilson’ not only a president but an actual human; this biography fell a bit short. I was fully expecting to find out things I would have never known about one of the most interesting presidents of the United States. This unfortunately did not happen. This is mostly due to the strictly informative nature of the book. Mr. Cooper chose to write in a very factual manner. Cooper spent most of his time detailing Wilson during his presidency, and spent little time on anything other than Wilson in WWI. Yes; this was an incredibly important time of history, but Wilson had a much more extensive resume. Wilson expanded the Sherman Anti-Trust Act with his Clayton Anti-Trust Act. Wilson also had to follow Teddy Roosevelt as a president. Although both of these are covered by Cooper, he hardly goes into depth. Wilson was also a professor of political science, and later the president at Princeton. Again, while stated; Cooper did not seem to find this part of Wilson’s life worthy of his time. It may seem contradictory; Cooper was able to capture most of Wilson’s personality. Cooper e4vealed Wilson’s personality through Wilson’s decision-making process. Cooper did not try to reveal it through anecdotes about Wilson through interviews of Wilson’s friends or the like. Interview or stories about Wilson as a regular person would have been much more appreciated. Cooper tried to capture who Wilson was but did it in too formal of a way. In essence, Cooper’s biography serves its purpose very well. Cooper intended to inform people on Woodrow Wilson, Wilson’s policies, politics, and presidency. If one intended to research Wilson this biography would be incredibly helpful. If one intends to learn about Woodrow Wilson as a person, this biography would be somewhat useless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book on Woodrow Wilson and it did not disappoint. Mr Cooper presented a wonderful biography and I was very impressed with how he was able to make me feel as though I knew Mr Wilson personally.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. Mr. Cooper wrote a highly intelligent biography of Woodrow Wilson. I was so captivated by the history of Wilson, that I made a side stop to visit birth home in Staunton, Virginia. More people should become knowledgeable about this president. He (Wilson) was a very complicated person. The only thing that disturbed me was that he was not an advocate for African Americans. But I suppose this was his southern background. My question would be to historians "Was Wilson a racist". Would love to hear what they have to say.
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I love biographies.