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Woodrow Wilson: A Biography


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With the 63-volume Papers of Woodrow Wilson , edited by Arthur Link (Princeton Univ. Pr., 1966-1990), now fully available, there is much recent work on various aspects of Wilson's life and career. The time is ripe for a good one-volume biography, accessible to both scholars and the general reader. Heckscher has ably met the challenge with this well-organized and serviceable work, blending political and personal history in a readable, generally sympathetic narrative. His account moves smoothly and judiciously through Wilson's rise from scholar to college president to governor to president and his precipitate decline in health and power. He is perhaps a bit heavy-handed about Wilson's health, seeing portents in every head cold. Overall, a fine job and recommended for all American history collections. BOMC alternate; History Book Club alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/91.--Ed.-- Nancy C. Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington

This major biography of Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) tracks his family background, his education, his transition from academician to political leader. We're shown his election to the White House in 1912, his legislative reforms, his early foreign-policy challenges in Mexico and Haiti, his superb leadership once America entered WW I, his role at the Paris Peace Conference, his attempt to gain popular support during the quarrel over Senate ratification of the Versailles Treaty, and his pitiful decline in health during his final years in office. Heckscher dismisses the notion that Wilson's wife, Edith, virtually ran the country during the latter period. What sets this well-written biography apart is the author's close attention to Wilson's emotional life (effectively revealed in certain of his letters). Heckscher succeeds in humanizing this rather forbidding man, although Wilson the ``Noble'' remains very much on display throughout--a man who ``fought bravely, but too stubbornly, for high ends.'' Heckscher is former president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Photos. BOMC and History Book Club alternates. (Oct.)

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