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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,488 ratings  ·  222 reviews
From Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times–bestselling author A. Scott Berg comes the definitive—and revelatory—biography of one of the great American figures of modern times.

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a dec
Hardcover, 818 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published January 1st 2013)
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Beth This is a very detailed biography - and for someone who knew nothing about Wilson, fascinating. I'm setting it aside after reading 1/3 because I'm…moreThis is a very detailed biography - and for someone who knew nothing about Wilson, fascinating. I'm setting it aside after reading 1/3 because I'm absorbing the changes he made to Princeton, and trying to imagine him as a charismatic speaker...
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Woodrow Wilson's rise to power must surely be the most vertiginous of any US leader. In October of 1910 he was still a middle-aged career academic, who had probably already suffered at least one minor stroke and who had never even run for public office. In November 1912, he was elected President of the United States.

It was a trajectory that brought its advantages and its disadvantages. His total lack of any grounding in practical politics tended, surprisingly, to work in his favour a lot of the
I have a hard time expressing in words what this book is doing to me. There is absolutely no way Wilson (1856-12924, the 28th President of the United States) can put someone to sleep. It is not dry. It is so emotionally engaging that it is literally tearing me apart.

I am torn apart not only by what happens to a man, who just happens to be a political figure, but also by the negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Versailles and by the failure of the US Congress to ratify the treaty that was eve
Steven Peterson
First, a confession. I am a professional political scientist. And Woodrow Wilson was one of the more influential early political scientists in American higher education.

That said, this is a fine biography of a complex human being. There are some idiosyncratic moments in this biography, but--overall-this book works well.

In the course of over 700 pages of text, we learn much of Wilson. He was a product of the South, someone whose values were affected by the Civil War. His attitude toward African A
“Tommy” Woodrow Wilson was so many things- consistent in his inconsistency, if you will. A. Scott Berg captures Wilson in a very readable narrative with a flow that was only interrupted by Berg’s insistence on using biblical quotes at the beginning of each chapter drawing parallels between Wilson and Jesus (annoying- the quotes, not my knowledge).

Wilson garnered the most respect from me during his time at Princeton. While his ideas didn’t necessarily set in, he basically laid the fram
Jay Connor
I’ve given the fourth star to this exhaustive biography of Woodrow Wilson, not because it approaches the greatness of Morris’ Teddy Roosevelt trilogy or even the recent Meacham exploration of Thomas Jefferson, but rather because it I was given the book as a very thoughtful birthday gift by my children.

Through Berg’s eyes I have come to a higher regard for what I still believe is a flawed president. The narrative was able to bring more balance to my view of Wilson’s ideological inconsistencies –

The author was generally flattering of President Wilson but did point out areas of criticism. I read the book as a story of a president without concern for two sides of issues and was not disappointed. Wilson was a strong and controversial president who, arguably, had the strongest influence on international relations for decades. He was one of the great orator leaders with great charisma who used his presence to move his agenda. He was also president during a time of great political disharmony,
Jeff Scott
It is biographer A. Scott Berg’s contention that Woodrow Wilson belongs in the top tier of presidents. After his presidency, there were those that would compare him to Lincoln and Washington, but over time, he has fallen out of minds and hearts. Berg wants to change that. He has written a biography intended to exalt Woodrow Wilson back into the Christ-like figure he was remembered as shortly after his presidency. However, in doing so, Berg too often becomes an apologist for Wilson rather than re ...more
Alice Meloy
Biography is an accessible way to study history, and as biographies go, this treatment of Woodrow Wilson is certainly one of the best I've read. Berg offers a relatively balanced view of our 28th president who had boyhood aspirations of serving his country in a political office. A student of U.S. and constitutional history, an eloquent writer and speaker, Wilson found a niche in academia, eventually becoming the popular president of Princeton (considered a 'southern" university at the time becau ...more
Biblio Files
The plan was to read chunks of this monumental book (800 pages of text, photos, bibliography, index, notes) and skim other parts. I was especially interested in finding out how this career academic went from non-politician to president in record time. And I wanted to read the story of the second wife as surrogate president story, which never seems to be told in a just-the-facts style.

My plan went to pieces right away. Practically every page had some fascinating story or event and I found myself
Nov 01, 2013 Grumpus rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Arminius
Shelves: audiobook, biography
I was going to write something up on this book but all I could think of was that I would never be able to do it the justice of an Arminius review. This one is right up your alley, my friend. Unfortunately, he has yet to read this one.

Anyway, I don't typically read reviews/comments from others unless they are friends and then only prior to reading the book. At my age, by the time I finish the book, I've forgotten what they wrote anyway (sorry guys) so at least I'm not influenced by it consciousl
An outstanding biography on the life of Woodrow Wilson. I had never read a book focusing on Wilson, and I feel that I learned a great deal. I never knew how many Progressive accomplishments Wilson was able to usher through as President. I knew that he often personally went to Congress to make an appeal about an issue, but I didn't realize how often he used this technique, or how effective he was as a speaker. He truly was an idealist, but he believed that the world could be a better place, and r ...more
Going into this I knew precious little about Woodrow Wilson. I'd read a book about the election between him, Roosevelt and Taft, but that was more about the conflict between Roosevelt and Taft. I knew vaguely about the League of Nations but only that it was the precursor to the United Nations. But in my mind it was a historical footnote of no more import than a trivia answer like knowing the Articles of Confederation predated the U.S. Constitution.

This book took me a little while to get into. Th
Woodrow Wilson our 28th President started his career out as a lawyer but quickly moved out of that business to get a doctorate degree in history and politics. After college he taught at the all-women’s college Bryn Mawr. He later moved to Wesleyan College to teach and finally to Princeton University. At Princeton he became the most popular and respected professor. Also at Princeton he published numerous articles and essays including a biography of George Washington. He became a hugely popular Sp ...more
Ooof, this was my first book by Scott Berg, who I understand is a great author. So hopefully he will understand my tearing this book a new one, as I am sure he recognizes something went wrong in this one.

The book has two main problems. One, this book tells you things, rather than show you. It reads like a children's encyclopedia entry. It says things like "Wilson was a very great man," Rather than showing you why he was great. Two examples. At one point in 1915 Berg writes that lynchings of blac
Uwe Hook
Woodrow Wilson had the mark of greatness. He was a visionary,believing that world peace was a real possibility. As president, he achieved great things. He created the Federal Reserve Board, reduced tariffs, reformed the tax laws, strengthened anti-trust laws, instituted the eight-hour workday, and established the Federal Trade Commission. He was an outstanding speaker and was the last president to write all of his own speeches. He was also a sincere Christian who firmly believed in the Presbyter ...more
This book should be entitled, "Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Woodrow Wilson"*

Author A. Scott Berg leaves no stone unturned in the voluminous work covering the entire life of the former president. You'll know what the New Jersey legislature was up to behind closed doors when the hero was governor of that state, and you'll learn that Wilson had two biscuits and earl gray tea before singing George M. Cohan tunes to his daughters in the sitting room.

This is one of those big books where
Robin Friedman
Scott Berg's new biography, "Wilson", offers a readable account on the 28th president, who served from 1913 -- 1921, focusing on his idealism and commitment to public service. Besides using the extensive prior writing about Wilson (1856 -- 1924), Berg draws on two sources of papers that had not been available to earlier biographers: the papers of Wilson's physician and confidante, Cary Grayson, and those of Jessie Wilson Sayre, the second of Wilson's three daughters. The result is a lengthy book ...more
At the end of this book, Scott Berg describes what propelled him to undertake this biography. He says he had read a number of biographies, and none of them captured Wilson's essence.

Well, now we can add one more to that list.

Berg has written, but not quite crafted, a tome that is clearly hagiographic, and in being such, also clearly lacks analysis and depth, despite some 750 pages of body text.

I found myself by the end of the first chapter questioning Berg's claims about the depth of Wilson's su
Sara Van Dyck
What surprised and pained me was to realize how the issues that we struggle with today are the same as during Wilson’s term in office, 100 years ago. Wilson “challenged an existing system in which wealth had created unfair advantages in an increasingly predatory corporate world.” He was faced with environmental problems and labor unrest. Although in many ways an idealist, he permitted severe restrictions on free speech - Eugene Debs was sentenced to ten years in jail for telling young men they w ...more

It was indeed a perilous time through which Woodrow Wilson led the nation. The world was imploding as nationalism caught fire around the globe and Europe was falling to pieces. At home, the labor movement was raging, fomenting violence and strikes. Women demanding suffrage were chaining themselves to the White House fence, and the Ku Klux Klan was on the rise. In his sweeping biography Wilson, A. Scott Berg captures both the complexities of the man and the transformational era in which he domina
A. Scott Berg has done an excellent job shedding light on one of our most noted and controversial Presidents. The work is organized into 4 "books", and 17 chapters, all of which have Biblical titles such as "Ascension", "Providence" and "Eden". And each chapter opens with a biblical epigram. This leads me to believe that Berg is saying that Wilson is first of all a preacher's son, and his religious upbringing was the biggest influence on his life. And we learn that the next big influence on his ...more
A. Scott Berg, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his "Lindbergh," turns to our 28th president for this affectionate, moving biography.
Woodrow Wilson was the first president to hold regular press conferences, the last to entirely write his own speeches and the only president in U.S. history raised in a country that had been defeated in war (the Confederacy). He was among our most scholarly and well-read presidents; "sturdily and mystically Christian," according to one contemporary; and he pl
This was a beast, wasn't sure I could finish. Wilson wouldn't make my short list of great Presidents nor would he be welcome to my foxhole. He was a good friend on his terms, but if you wandered outside those boundaries, time and again he would never speak to you again e.g. poor House and Tumulty. Occurs to me that many of his progressive ideas are being paraded out again by our current occupant of the White House. Wilson's platform was soundly rejected with the election of a Republican Presiden ...more
Straight up front, I have an admission to make. When my daughters gave me this book for Christmas, the look on my face was obviously less than enthusiastic because they immediately said, "dad, if you don't like it, we'll return it for something else." And, of course, I quickly recovered as any good dad would by saying that they had just caught me off guard and how did they know that I had just recently added this to my reading list, thereby sealing my ultimate fate of actually having to read the ...more
A very comprehensive telling of the life of Woodrow Wilson. A progressive President who in his first term was able to legislate with a Democratic Congress many social changes including establishing the Federal Reserve. Because of his Southern background, he set back race relations in the US. He brought the US into World War I and his idealism established the League of Nations. Due to domestic politics, he was unable to get the Treaty of Versaille and the League approved by the US Senate. He was ...more
Boy, I wish I could write a book report on this one. I took it out because it was new (100 years since Woodrow Wilson took office; anniversaries are always a good reason to print a new book) and because I heard Glen Beck HATES Wilson. Why? Because Wilson thought business had too much power and corrupted politicians? Because Wilson was a racist and a sexist, though probably only to the level reflected by the society of the time. Because Wilson instituted a progressive (income) tax? Because Wilson ...more
A. Scott Berg has already proven himself a capable, thorough and unbiased biographer, with earlier volumes on as such figures as Charles Lindbergh and Katherine Hepburn.

Woodrow Wilson, though, must have presented a particular challenge, as here was a subject who had published many books and essays himself, some with contradictory information.

Berg's biography of Wilson is particularly strong in demonstrating the ambition, and at times the ruthlessness of the man who most of us only know as the ta

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856 and died in 1924. His parents were of Scottish descent; his grandparents and his mother were born in Britain. Wilson's father was a presbyterian minister. Although born in Ohio, Wilson's father had moved to the south for employment and adopted the views of his parishioners, siding with the faction that set up a separate southern Presbyterian denomination. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia, but subsequent moves resulted in Wilson growing up in Georgia an
This biography of the 28th President of the US, Woodrow Wilson, is very readable. The book paints a well-rounded picture, albeit with a feeling of pathos throughout, knowing as we do that the president’s greatest creation, the League of Nations, was sabotaged when it came up for ratification in the Senate. The book describes Wilson's background of Scottish Presbyterian ministers, and the influence that had on his thoughts and ideas; reflecting that, each chapter of the book has a one-word religi ...more
Bobby D
One Hundred years ago our President was an idealistic progressive educator who served following the underwhelming President Taft and under the shadow of Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive policies and out sized personality. A. Scott Berg’s new biography is a very interesting and enlightening read that lets the reader discover the man and the events of his times. Wilson was elected with 42% of the vote having practically no political experience (two years as Governor of New Jersey) and the luck of ...more
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