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Herbert Hoover: The American Presidents Series: The 31st President, 1929-1933 (The American Presidents #31)

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  319 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
The Republican efficiency expert whose economic boosterism met its match in the Great Depression

Catapulted into national politics by his heroic campaigns to feed Europe during and after World War I, Herbert Hoover—an engineer by training—exemplified the economic optimism of the 1920s. As president, however, Hoover was sorely tested by America's first crisis of the twentiet
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Times Books (first published January 6th 2008)
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Aug 05, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Forty-Two of my Presidential Challenge.

Herbert Hoover was a complicated fellow. He was stubborn, never letting facts get in the way of his political philosophy of laissez-faire. He was deluded, believing that local government and voluntarism could solve the Great Depression when it clearly couldn't.

His belief is voluntarism given his career is particularly perplexing. His pre-Presidential career involved him personally getting food and supplies to many in need during WWI. However, almost al
May 07, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Published in 2009, “Herbert Hoover” by William E. Leuchtenburg is a member of The American Presidents Series. Leuchtenburg is professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the author of numerous books on 20th century history. His most recent book “The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton” was published in 2015.

Consistent with other books in this series, Leuchtenburg’s biography is concise, forthright
Shawn Thrasher
Jun 26, 2012 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leuchtenburg's book is quite good, and he hits homeruns on his arguments that Herbert Hoover was hypocritical about his feelings on government intervention (he was for it when he wasn't against it), self deluding on his impacts throughout his career (he claimed he did much more than he actually did many times), and a sour puss who should never have run for president, let alone won the office. "The Oval Office," Leuchtenburg writes at the end. "Requires more than dedication and managerial skills, ...more
Nov 03, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-project
History 101 teaches that Herbert Hoover was one of the biggest failures as President, with the term "Hooverville" probably a correct answer on a test in every high school history class. But aside from his presiding over the economy's crash and sudden plummeting into depression (and as a song in the musical "Annie"), I did not know much about him. In fact, he is most known in contrast with FDR, who used unprecedented actions to try to reverse the slide.

As Hoover actually took over from Calvin Coo
Jun 18, 2013 Jacki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve probably read 8 or 9 of the American Presidents series biographies. They are totally hit or miss, but for a lot of the presidents, it was really the only viable option out there. There were a couple of other Herbert Hoover books out there but they were either very expensive or very long and I knew I didn’t want either.* So I ended up with another American Presidents book… and it was a total hit.

We’re getting into a period of American history that I’m totally fascinated by (Depression/WWII),
Steven Peterson
This biography of Herbert Hoover represents yet one more entry in “The American Presidents” series of books, originally under the editorial direction of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., before his death (since, Sean Wilentz has come on board as editor). Hoover, of course, suffered greatly in the estimation if history by presiding over the Great Depression. The interesting twist in this book is the contention that Hoover may well have failed anyway, as a result of his rigidity, lack of empathy, and his e ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another read for History class and paper. What can I say... had a hard time plowing through this. Not so much I don't think because it was a bad book but because I quickly became tired of the egotistic manner of this man. Very interesting how he pushed his way through into most things and no one ever seemed to try to stop him. I am amazed that a man with the types of personal problems he apparently had was elected president.
Nov 30, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent edition to the American President Series. Leuchtenburg offers a nice summation of the man's extraordinary life and challenging presidency. Hoover is not an easy man to write about. His life is full of contradictions and Leuchtenburg does an admirable job of trying to show the man in full. Obviously, not an easy task due to Hoover's personality.
Donna Herrick
Jun 26, 2011 Donna Herrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
probably a very balanced biography of President Hoover. This succinct book gives a good sense of the broad scope of Hoover's lifework and a nice view of the philosophical conflicts that are playing out still in our national politics. I was amazed at the schizophrenic nature of Hoover's political positions. Xome times he espoused progressive policies, sometimes very cconservative.
Alicia Joy
Dec 14, 2014 Alicia Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very frequently this author would make Hoover sound like he was doing very well after taking office, but then a few paragraphs later would discuss how I'm his initiatives failed. A bit annoying, but overall I think this author was very good and definitely an unbiased portrayal of a very controversial figure.
Pat Carson
Hoover is and isn't who I thought he was. He's also an example of a bitter man who can't accept that he's in a job he is truly not suited for. Another good read.
Kressel Housman
I first became interested in President Hoover from Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure, in which I read that before Hoover became president, he was a national hero, the “great humanitarian” who fed the starving in post-World War I Europe. That came as a great surprise to me, as all I remember learning about him in school was that he was blamed for the Great Depression. So I wanted to know how he went from being “the great humanitarian” to being the source for the nickname for shantytowns, i.e. “H ...more
Donny Hilgeman
Great book dealing with President Herbert Hoover. A man lauded and hated. He had an amazing ability to organize help during major crises, yet made horrific decisions - or took a laissez fare during times of peace and prosperity. He almost single-handedly organized the feeding of the Belgian and French people starving to death under the Germans in World War I, saving thousands of lives. Yet, amidst the Great Depression lifted barely a finger to help starving Americans. Choosing instead to pretend ...more
James P
Oct 26, 2016 James P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robin Friedman
Nov 28, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The American Presidents Series, edited by Arthur Schlesinger and Sean Wilentz, offers an excellent way to learn about American history, the presidents, and the qualities of successful or unsuccessful leadership. Each of the short volumes is written by scholar with particular interest in the subject. Although the volumes are short and readable, they are not mere summaries but rather offer their own insight into the president and era they discuss.

William Leuchtenburg's study of Herbert Hoover (187
Zach Koenig
Feb 25, 2017 Zach Koenig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Herbert Hoover has widely been regarded as one of the worst Presidents in U.S. History. When one thinks of the name "Hoover", the images of the Great Depression and its "Hoovervilles" (villages of homeless, out of work U.S. citizens) immediately spring to mind. Though Hoover roundly deserves his place near the bottom of the Presidents list, this book at least gives him a fair shake and explains exactly what his shortcomings were.

What I liked about this installment in this series was that the aut
Jun 04, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After visiting the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Boyhood Home in West Branch, Iowa, I found myself wanting to know more about this enigmatic president. In 2012, The Washington Post published a list of the best biographies of all the American Presidents. They cited Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg as the book to read on the 31st President. Leuchtenburg is a retired professor of history from University of North Carolina a Chapel Hill and is considered a leading scholar on Frank ...more
Andy Miller
Dec 02, 2012 Andy Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brief, balanced biography of the President who presided over one of the worst crises of our country, the Great Depression. The author, William Leuchtenburg traces his upbringing, Hoover was orphaned as a young boy in Iowa and was eventually sent to live in Oregon with an unfeeling uncle and economic hardship. While Hoover ends up going to Stanford at its beginning which opens up great opportunity, this book paints a picture that Hoover's childhood affected him his whole life, that he always ha ...more
Gary Schantz
Feb 26, 2012 Gary Schantz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good read. If you haven't read much about Hoover, you will find this book very insightful in regards to the contradictory manner in which he carried himself prior, during and after being president. Everything he did before becoming president shed light on the fact that he was an excellent leader. However upon becoming president, he seemed to abandoned everything he knew about being great organizer and detailed oriented manager. It doesn't make much sense as to why he allowed hims ...more
Greg Brozeit
Hoover was in many ways exactly the type of Republican that dispassionate people can admire. He really believed in individual initiative, that those who had should provide for those who need, and government should only address very limited issues related to the common good. In theory this is noble; in practice, especially when a modern financial system that has gone amuck, it can be catastrophic. Hoover walked the walk in his private life. A self-made millionaire, he felt it was is responsibilit ...more
Chris Burd
I often find comfort in reading Presidential biographies - or American history in general. I realize that while things seem completely out of control and untenable right now, historically speaking, not a lot has changed. The news media has always had factions that were partisan and controlled by political parties. Politicians were always controlled by special interests. And for hundreds of years, we've managed to survive.

However, I found no comfort in Herbert Hoover's biography given the current
This was a really short biography, and it left me wanting to know more about Herbert Hoover, but it also felt like it gave me a good overview into the 31st President. The facts included in this biography about the Great Depression were mind boggling. I kept interrupting my husband to keep reading little tidbits to him. It was appalling, and yet fascinating. I kept reading on almost begging Hoover to step in, to open his eyes to the disaster and the famine. To see that his idea of society steppin ...more
Steven Freeman
Jan 04, 2017 Steven Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
An engineer who earned world-wide recognition for his heroic efforts to feed Europe during and after World War I. As a private citizen he earned millions of dollars and was successful in almost everything he tried. However, his lifelong hatred for the government, except to allow private enterprise to happen, left him unequipped for the great depression and unwilling to change. While he saved Europeans from starvation using primarily using government supplied dollars, he was unwilling to spend an ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
Even after reading Leuchtenburg's book, Hoover remains a puzzle.
On the one hand, he helped millions in the world through a food crusade during the first World War and on the other, he fired men from mining jobs and hired others at lower pay rates.
Only the most naive will have to be reminded he was the United States president at the beginning of the Great Depression.
Hoover was good at organization, but was a boring public speaker. People who praised him for his work disliked him for his ta
Short but informative general biography on Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. This bio covers the entirety of Hoover's life, but goes into greater detail on his professional life leading up to and during his one-term as President. The author, William Leuchtenburg divides Hoover's presidency into three chapters, dedicating a chapter solely to Hoover's actions during the Great Depression.

"Hoover, obituaries dutifully recorded, was almost universally judged to have been a fai
Aug 03, 2012 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a rather slim book which manages to hit all of the high (and low) points of the life of Herbert Hoover. Here is a man who was one of the most popular men on the planet, who became a US president, and yet ended his career in virtual disgrace. A successful mining engineer who headed an international relief effort which saved millions of Europeans from starvation, and a few years later saved thousands of Americans in a terrible flood of the Mississippi river in 1927. Although, the Great Dep ...more
Jennifer Nelson
My hat's off to William Leuchtenburg for putting together a very readable, lucid, and interesting biography of an amazingly horrible president. Although I agree with Hoover's stance against government enlargement and I respect the amount of charitable work he accomplished in his life, I was quite shocked by Hoover's incompetence and lack of vision as President of the United States and found hardly anything admirable about the man. He was harsh, antisocial, completely lacked any sort of compassio ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When looking for books on Hoover, there were two that were the most popular and got the best ratings. This one, and one that had some 500+ pages. Since I've been reading quite a bit about this time period, and since Hoover only served a term, I figured I could read the shorter book, and come out with the information I wanted to read. However, this book only piqued my interest even more. Probably one of the least understood, and unfairly judged Presidents in our history. This guy went from greedy ...more
Oct 21, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was never a "fan" of Hoover--but I did think he just got dealt a bad hand. He indeed DID get dealt a bad hand, but his upbringing, some of his previous experiences, and his infelxibility rendered him totally incapable of dealing with the crisis in an effective and meaningful way. From "the Great Humanitarian" in WWI to "the Great Scrooge" of the Depression, perhaps no President in modern history fell so far so fast. Like him, love him, hate him, or even if you're just indifferent to him, the b ...more
Apr 03, 2010 Dennis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Herbert Hoover has been labeled a failed president and it is not difficult to accept that given what the author highlighted in this 161 page book. His failure was of his own doing though he was hit with the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. While the author does not say so, it would seem that Hoover's arrogance and low regard for others probably had a lot to do with his failure. These personal traits caused him not to be a leader in his own party, hence it would seem he could ...more
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