Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The stereotype is shattered--a prim, precise Woodrow Wilson singing "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," or the libidinous widower engaging (perhaps) in premarital sex with Edith, who becomes his second wife. Cooper (Univ. of Wisconsin; The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, CH, Apr'84) presents Wilson "off the pedestal," human in every respect. Nevertheless, to some, Wilson may remain unlikeable, even too human, held captive by his vindictiveness and inflexibility. Such traits haunted him in academia at Princeton and as New Jersey's governor, and followed him into the White House, where he fought Congress over ratification of the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations. A latecomer to Progressivism (and women's suffrage), Wilson nevertheless takes his place with Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft as a reformer. He appears to have sought order in all matters, but political dissent and civil liberties were on his back burner during and after WW I. He is plagued by his racist perceptions and aloof from the misery of African Americans who suffered on his watch. This book could be read in conjunction with W. Barksdale Maynard's Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency (CH, Aug'09, 46-7000), but Cooper's biography will remain definitive for years to come. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. P. D. Travis Texas Woman's University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
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.