Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Wilson by Scott Berg

I finished reading Wilson by Scott Berg as an e-book on my iPad. As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite books is Lindberg by Scott Berg. When I saw that Berg had written a book about Woodrow Wilson, I bought it. This is part of my project to read books about all of the presidents.

Wilson was born in the south in the years proceeding the civil war. He was born just over 100 years before I was… Wilson lived through Reconstruction. He saw the results of Sherman's march through the South. These experiences impacted his initial view on how German reparations should be handled after World War I. As the post war treaty negotiations started, Wilson worried that harsh reparations would set the stage for further conflicts. As he worked with France and England negotiating the treaty, his view on German reparations become more severe.

From 1902 to 1910, Wilson served as the President of Princeton University. Most of his life was spent as as a lecturer and a professor at a number of universities. I have read a number of books in the last couple of years about the period from 1880 to 1910. Wilson's life during this period was largely not involved in the outside world, but wrapped in the cocoon of academia. He wrote several political science books.

Wilson burst on the national scene as the Governor of New Jersey at age 54. He served from 1911 to 1913. Running against Teddy Roosevelt and Taft, Wilson was elected President in November of 1912. As governor and in his first presidential term, he had remarkable success enacting a progressive legislative agenda. He was re-elected as President of the United States in 1916.

Keeping the United States out of World War I during his first term, Wilson finally committed United States to the war in 1917. After the end of the war, he spent six months in Europe pushing his peace plan including the League of Nations. Wilson was not able to convince the Republican Senate to ratify the resulting Treaty of Versailles. Much of the rhetoric during Wilson's second term seems similar to the vitriol that takes place between Democrats and Republicans today...

Wilson suffered a major stroke in 1919. It is amazing that he was not removed from office. I don't think that this would be possible in the today's real-time media crazed era. Wilson died just three years after leaving office at age 67.

Although it spends a lot of pages on the post World War I peace conference, I enjoyed the book. At 747 pages, it is a load. Reading some of the comments on Amazon, it also hard to know how the author paints Woodrow Wilson. Many people seem to think that Berg portrays Wilson more positively than he should. At some point, I am going to read a couple of different books that rank all of the presidents.

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