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1920
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About the Author

David Pietrusza, CASEY Award winner, has authored or edited over thirty books. His Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius who Fixed the 1919 World Series was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category. He lives in upstate New York.

Reviews

Pietrusza's (Rothstein) chronicle of the presidential election of 1920 is absorbing, despite the subtitle's rather tangential claim that the election involved six men who had served or would serve as president: Harding, Wilson, Coolidge, Hoover and both Roosevelts (though Teddy had died in 1919). This book isn't really about them, nor is it merely the story of one electoral race. Rather, Pietrusza is telling a grander tale, of a country toppling into "modernity, or what passed for it." In 1920, the automobile had overtaken the horse, jazz and the fox-trot were replacing the camp meeting as popular entertainment, people were learning to buy on installment, and more and more of those fox-trotting shoppers lived in cities. Presidential candidates, for the first time, courted women voters. (Democrat Cox was divorced, which was expected to play badly with the fairer sex.) Both parties waffled on the so-called race question, seeking black votes while either tacitly or explicitly endorsing white supremacy. Given Harding's electoral victory and death during his term, Pietrusza could have devoted more space to the abiding importance of this election. All in all, Pietrusza has produced a broad, satisfying political and social history, in the style of Doris Kearns Goodwin. 16 pages of b&w illus. (Feb. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A hugely fascinating episode in American history, told with insight and great humor, by an author in command of his subject."--Kirkus Review, starred review
"Absorbing...a broad, satisfying political and social history."--Publishers Weekly
"A terrific and fun read."--Bloomberg Radio
"[A] campaign like no other before or since. David Pietrusza... builds the suspense of the 1920 campaign so effectively that the reader easily suspends, for the moment, knowledge of the outcome, as if it were still about to happen."--The Weekly Standard
"A colorful, nonacademic account.... Most of all, there are characters. Pietrusza draws them sharply: the imperious Wilson, the obliging Harding, the dour and honest Coolidge and the ambitious and dissembling Franklin Roosevelt. Fans of political history will enjoy this book."--Seattle Times
"Fascinating and compelling.... Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"An ably popular treatment that fans of campaign histories will enjoy."--Booklist
"More than just a story of six men who either already had been president or would be, this is the story of America as it moved into the modern age."--Denver Post
"A very vivid portrait of each of these presidents."--Ann Compton, ABC News
"Sweeping and original."--The History Book Club
"In 1920: The Year of Six Presidents, writer David Pietrusza shows the right way to pull together disparate characters into a coherent narrative...this book portrays an America that has stopped looking backward and has begun to craft a new country and a new world role."--Washington Times

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, the United States did not have six presidents in 1920. The author stretches the truth a bit to dramatize a historical anomaly: six men-a sitting president, former president, and four eventual presidents-competed in the 1920 presidential election. Actually, President Woodrow Wilson was physically incapacitated at the start of the year, and Theodore Roosevelt had died in 1919, but the legacies of both presidents shaped the 1920 election campaign. Pietrusza (Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series) sufficiently contends that this election marked the birth of modern American politics. Each of the main characters is introduced sequentially, with brief biographical information, beginning with Wilson and his failed attempt to have his League of Nations treaty adopted by the Senate, to TR and his split with Taft and the mainstream Republican Party, to Warren Harding, winner of the election, to Coolidge, Harding's vice president and successor upon death, to Hoover and finally FDR. Pietrusza wisely includes considerable information on Eugene Debs, the Socialist candidate that year. The many issues and forces that swirled during that time, from the fear of Communists and Socialists and the terrorism they allegedly perpetrated to technological advances and Prohibition, make for a fascinating and compelling tale of an often-overlooked election in our history. Highly recommended.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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