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Wilson

por A. Scott Berg

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5472432,995 (4.15)17
One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson- the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently-discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details - even several unknown events - that fill in missing pieces of Wilson's character and cast new light on his entire life. From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence, from the idealist determined to make the world 'safe for democracy', to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity, and the subterfuges around it, were among the century's greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view - a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson's life, accomplishments and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon - but Wilson the man.… (mais)
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It covers a lot of ground particulary history and upbringing and political issues he tackled but at end he wore out. ( )
  hdwalker | May 23, 2020 |
A. Scott Berg has already proven himself a capable, thorough and unbiased biographer, with earlier volumes on as such figures as Charles Lindbergh and Katherine Hepburn.

Woodrow Wilson, though, must have presented a particular challenge, as here was a subject who had published many books and essays himself, some with contradictory information.

Berg's biography of Wilson is particularly strong in demonstrating the ambition, and at times the ruthlessness of the man who most of us only know as the tall, bespectacled man waving a black top hat in grainy, black and white silent movies.

Wilson would cut off long-term friends without a word when he felt wronged -- and that seemed to happen a lot. He remarried soon after his beloved first wife died, ran on a platform of "He Kept Us Out of War and then promptly got the US into World War I. During that year of war, Wilson pushed through a law so intrusive into personal privacy that it makes the 2002 Patriot Act seem impotent.

Sickly all of his life, Wilson tended to suffer severe headaches and even small strokes whenever the stress got to be too much, and in his last month's in office, devastated by the failure of the US to join the League of Nations he faded from view.

Berg's achievement here is to show Wilson in all his complexity. ( )
  TheJulianos | Mar 11, 2020 |
5527, Wilson, by A. Scott Berg (read 22 Jan 2018) This book came out in 2013 and even though I had much enjoyed Berg's Pulitzer-prize winning biography of Lindbergh, which I read 30 Mar 1999, and his biography of Max Perkins (which I read 3 Mar 2006) I decided not to read it then since I had read six volumes about Wilson by Arthur Link in June and July of 1980 and had read Arthur Walworth's two-volume Pulitzer-prize-winning biography of Wilson in April 1999. But when I read on Jan 9, 2018, Ross Gregory's book on the entrance of he U.S. into World War One I thought it so interesting that I decided it would be worthwhile to read this biography of Wilson now. I am glad I so decided. Berg's book concentrates more on Wilson's personal life though his time as a professor at and president of Princeton is fully covered as are his time as Governor of New Jersey and his election and activity as President. It is all unfailingly absorbing reading, as is the account of the doleful time after his stroke on Oct 3, 1919, as he persisted in being president though so severely handicapped. Obviously he was a brilliant man but also flawed in stubbornly insisting that, against the good advice he was given, refusing to compromise and enable the U.S. to join the League of Nations. He of course was right that there would be another war because of the failure of the League of Nations--and of the failure of his efforts to have the treaty ending World War One be less vindictive. So there is much sadness in the book but it is highly dramatic and well-written. I am glad I decided to read it. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 22, 2018 |
Summary: A definitive biography of Woodrow Wilson, that traces the arc of his life from boyhood to professor to college president to U.S. president in biblical terms fitting for this deeply religious man.

For many of us, Woodrow Wilson is the somewhat tragic figure associated with the cruel peace of Versailles that sowed the seeds of World War II, the unwillingness of Congress to embrace U.S. entry into the League of Nations, and the secrets of his final year as president, severely impaired by a stroke, protected by his wife and doctor. That is only a small part of the story of this deeply religious man who combined a progressive vision for the nation with great integrity, and, for over six years of his presidency, masterful leadership. It is this fuller story that A. Scott Berg renders in what may be, for our generation, the definitive biography of Wilson.

As befits the staunchly Presbyterian Thomas Woodrow Wilson (he dropped the Thomas in college), Berg uses a biblical narrative arc to trace his life. Berg's opening chapters capture the pinnacle of Wilson's "Ascension" as he arrives to acclaim in Europe for peace talks after the Armistice and the "Providence" of his boyhood as a Presbyterian minister's son.

We then begin with the Eden of college years at Princeton, where he would spend much of his life. There were the Sinai years of wilderness wandering in law school and then graduate studies at Johns Hopkins, followed by several professorship, culminating in his appointment at Princeton, where he and first wife Ellen would spend much of adult life, first as a remarkably popular professor and scholar, and later as an ambitious reforming president. "Advent" covers the politics of the latter part of his presidency, the first signs of arteriosclerosis that would play a significant role latter, and his (likely non-sexual) dalliance with Mrs. Peck.

"Paul" covers his brief tenure as New Jersey governor and presidential campaign. It was striking to me that one of the things that won people to Wilson was that he never "talked down" to people but rather his elevated speech lifted them up. "Disciples" discusses the people Wilson surrounded himself as he prepared for his first term and the reforms he hoped to introduce. We meet Colonel House, who holds no office but was perhaps his most intimate adviser and emissary until their falling out after the peace talks at the end of the war. There is William McAdoo, who will later become his son-in-law. We are also introduced to Dr. Cary Grayson, the military doctor who oversaw the president's health. "Baptism" covers the beginning of the first term and "Ecclesiastes" the death of Ellen from Bright's disease and the subsequent courtship and marriage to Edith, who would play such a critical role at the end of his presidency.

"Deliverance" describes his election to a second term on the slogan "he kept us out of the war" and the increasing awareness that it would not be possible for the U.S. to remain neutral. "Armageddon" chronicles the entrance into the war, and how Wilson masterfully mobilizes the nation to move onto a war footing. "Isaiah"and "Gethsemane" give an account of the peace talks and the maneuvering of Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and others to undermine Wilson's lofty ideals about both the League of Nations and the terms imposed upon Germany. "Passion" tells the tale of Congress's rejection of his treaty efforts, and the punishing cross-country journey to try to sell the treaty to the people that led to a series of small strokes, culminating into a major one that left Wilson paralyzed on his left side. "Pieta" describes the efforts of Edith, Grayson, and others close to Wilson to sustain his presidency when he was greatly disabled, and the passing of the presidency to the antithesis of Wilson, Warren Harding. The final chapter, "Resurrection" tells the story of his final years, the rise of his reputation in the nation including outliving Harding, and his passing and burial in the National Cathedral.

We have a portrait of a great and tragic figure. He wasn't perfect. He was a man of integrity who could be unforgiving when trust was betrayed, as he was with some of his closest advisers at the end of his presidency. He was that rare occurrence, an effective scholar-politician. His record on race was spotty, but he advocated for women's suffrage. He fought big business and pressed tariff reforms that helped many in the country. He resisted the drumbeat of war, and when it could be resisted no longer, led the nation into a disinterested effort to fight a "war to end all wars." He saw further than others, and fought in vain for the settlement and the institutions that would forestall a renewal of war. His sense of duty, and obligation to the fighting men, led him to efforts that nearly killed him, and did break his health irreparably.

Reading the biography reminded me that the struggle between American self-interest and an expansive view of our role in the world has run throughout our history. It portrayed how much we ask of our presidents, and the wonder that any of them survive their terms in office. A. Scott Berg's biography of Wilson is a fascinating exploration of what makes for presidential greatness, the shaping of presidential leadership and the perennial conflicts that seem inherent in the American experiment. ( )
  BobonBooks | Mar 14, 2017 |
In this current day and age when presidents are either career politicians or from the military, how wonderful would it be if we had candidates that were thinking of the good of the nation and not their own pockets and careers?

Thomas Woodrow Wilson appears to have been such a man, thinking first of the citizens and their needs before his own. He was an academician who was elected Governor of NJ and from here to the White House. If Teddy Roosevelt hadn't decided that he wanted to get back in the Presidency, and hadn't split the voters, I'm not sure that Wilson would have been elected, but Wilson's presidency was at time when the nation needed his constancy and clear head.

He was responsible for the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Farm Loan Act. He also was a major player in the plans of the League of Nations at the end of World War I. I'm not sure that the man gets his just recognition.

A very informative book and the even with the volume of pages, still a good source for Wilson's bio. ( )
  cyderry | Dec 15, 2015 |
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Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
--It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name--
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause . . .
- William Wordsworth, "Character of the Happy Warrior"
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Dawn broke that day on a new epoch, one that would carry the name of a man whose ideas and ideals would extend well into the next century.
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One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson- the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently-discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details - even several unknown events - that fill in missing pieces of Wilson's character and cast new light on his entire life. From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence, from the idealist determined to make the world 'safe for democracy', to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity, and the subterfuges around it, were among the century's greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view - a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson's life, accomplishments and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon - but Wilson the man.

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