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1920: The Year of the Six Presidents

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  632 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
The presidential election of 1920 was among history’s most dramatic. Six once-and-future presidents-Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt-jockeyed for the White House. With voters choosing between Wilson’s League of Nations and Harding’s front-porch isolationism, the 1920 election shaped modern America. Women won the vote. Republicans outspent ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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May 10, 2015 Arminius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
The book “1920 The Year if the Six Presidents” gives a fascinating look at Presidents’ Theodore Roosevelt,, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding ,Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The author curiously leaves out William Howard Taft one of the featured candidates. They were all alive and very active in 1920.

After reading the Presidents’ Club seeing how President Truman created enduring friendships among the living presidents I wonder if he saw the animosity of the 1920’s group
Dec 18, 2007 Glenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journalism
As someone whose interest in history only flourished long after I was out of high school, I remember with a shudder those grim history books I was made to read. I know that the way history is transmitted can determine whether or not the subject really connects to a reader. Usually, it is done badly, and most people wind up not caring about the past.

David Pietrusza's remarkable new book “1920: The Year of Six Presidents” is exactly the way history should be written. It is riveting, involving, fil
Lauren Albert
Sep 17, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-american
A book for people interested not just in politics but in "politicking.". It was a little too detailed for me and even with the list of the front, I found myself getting confused. But I blame that on my ignorance of that period of our history. It was incredibly well researched and Pietrusza dug up plenty of amusing anecdotes to lighten the book.
F.C. Schaefer
Mar 07, 2014 F.C. Schaefer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the history books, the Presidential election of 1920 is usually described as a debacle, one that resulted in the election of Warren G. Harding, universally thought to be one of our worst Chief Executives; to ice the cake, Harding won with 60% of the popular vote, making him one of the few men ever to pull off a feat that not even Ronald Reagan could achieve.

But in his book, 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents, author and historian David Pietruza brings the America of that year back to life a
Nov 17, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before anyone gets the wrong idea--the United States not only didn't have six presidents in 1920, but one of the presidents under discussion, Theodore Roosevelt, died in 1919. What the author is referring to is that in the American political environment as the 1920 election year approached, six presidents-one past, one sitting, and four men who would become presidents in the future were involved in the political discussions, debates, and decision-making of that post World War I world. Even thoug ...more
Oct 11, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You won't be disappointed in this documentary of the election that kicked off our roaring '20s. The book opens with the nearly incapacitated Wilson negotiating the 14 points and Treaty of Versailles to close WWI.
Then Republican promise Teddy Roosevelt passes away; leaving the delegates lost on their next move for the Presidency.

Incredible detail on both the Republican and Democratic...(and Socialist) primaries of 1919. A good indication of how the primaires function as more of a groupthink and
Jowana Bueser
Jul 09, 2012 Jowana Bueser rated it it was amazing
1. Crackling fun is not the usual description most people use for historical accounts but David Pietrusza is not most historians. He sure does like the 1920s and presidential campaigns. In this book, he was able to do both. Interestingly, the 1920 U.S. election features a cast never before seen in politics. Six men including incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, former President Theodore Roosevelt and future Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt figured ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Now that the school year has started, I've decided that I don't have time for books that don't fully cite their sources. This guy seems to have taken the "I'm only going to cite direct quotations" approach. As someone who is reading because of historical interest ... well, let's just say that my opinion is that if you don't cite ALL your sources, then your (non-fiction) work is useless. The incomplete citations plus the overly dramatic tone had me deciding within two pages that I wasn't going to ...more
Oct 26, 2008 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging history of the presidential election of 1920 in which, at one point or another, six men who held the position vied for the office.
The author does a fine job of laying the landscape and developing the principals. Also, he provides excellent background on the suffrage movement (1920 was the first year women were provided the right to vote).
The descriptions of the conventions was also very enjoyable.
A well-written, easily read history of an important time in American history. The interbell
Al Young
May 24, 2015 Al Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The basis of this book is that the 1920 election was dominated by six personalities- former and future Presidents, and it’s unlikely due to the 22nd Amendment to ever see that again. In 1919, Teddy Roosevelt, after his failed 1912 third party campaign- looks to be undoubtedly headed back to the White House as a Republican. Unfortunately, he dies that year. Woodrow Wilson is the current President, and although he is too ill and too unpopular to likely win a third term, it is his not so secret des ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This is a history of the election of 1920. I taught 20th Century history for 20 years and am an American Studies master's degree holder. I say all of this because I approached this book from this perspective. Overall, Mr. Pietrusza has written a fine book which is readable and usually held my interest. I had not realized how many past, present and future presidents were in the world of politics in 1920, so I began this book with an appreciation of his approach. I especially liked his presentatio ...more
Mar 31, 2016 Drtaxsacto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book is that 1920 was one of those rare years of significant transition - which involved six past, current or future presidents (TR, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and FDR - note Taft did not play a big role in that year although he is mentioned in passing).

For each of the major characters he does a background piece - how he got to 1920. TR seemed to be setting himself up to run in 1920 but died in 1919 - but his politics heavily influenced how the process for the GOP nomi
Jun 22, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pietrusza has a style of writing worth studying. He blends history with anecdotal humor—totally reliable. This is the mortar between the bricks that holds the narrative together as a must-read, can't-put-it-down account of the presidential race of 1920.

In New York, Al Smith ran for re-election as governor, handily defeating
Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who had replaced Franklin as Assistant Secretary of the
Navy. Eleanor Roosevelt ... installed a giant teapot (for Teapot Dome) atop her
car and campaign
Feb 08, 2008 Diskojoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diskojoe by: Emily
This was an excellent read, especially considering these present times. I wish I could vote for Calvin Coolidge.
May 26, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it enough to purchase extra copies for friends and family
Haley Swanson
It's not that this book is bad, not at all. It's just.. too much. This was assigned reading for an American History class I took. I'm sorry but I don't need an inch and a half of book over the issues of one election as monumental as 1920 was. It dragged on, it wasn't exactly exciting to read. I didn't feel like I gleaned a lot of new information reading this than I could have gotten (in a much more abbreviated form) from my textbook. I gave up after getting about 10 chapters in. Not my cup of te ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
1920 was a seminal year in both American politics and history. Considering our view of modern politics, we will never likely see a year where six past, current, and future Presidents would be involved in the same election. 1920 not only looks at this interesting time in history but the events surrounding it that helped define it.

Theodore Roosevelt: TR was the choice of Republicans everywhere entering the 1920 election. He would achieve the greatness of a then unprecedented third term. The only t
Jay Connor
Oct 31, 2010 Jay Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a gift from my Dad. We share a love of history and do a very good job of finding treasures for each other. David Pietrusza's "1920" certainly qualifies as such a treasure.

The beauty of reading history is in seeing the present with clearer eyes. Pietrusza, a historian with a fairly thin pedigree, tells a story of a precise moment in time when the lives of six American Presidents intersect in a political campaign. Yet, that moment casts light on the profound contradictions in our na
Anthony Bergen
May 30, 2011 Anthony Bergen rated it it was amazing
(Review originally posted at Dead Presidents):

1920: The Year of Six Presidents
By David Pietrusza
Paperback Edition. 2008. 553 pp. Basic Books

In 1920, the United States was weary from the first World War and leaning towards isolationism after spending most of Woodrow Wilson's Presidential term focused on foreign turmoil. After two terms in the White House, Wilson was a broken man, unpopular with most Americans, despised by his Republican opponents, and an invalid thanks to stroke that nearly kille

Apr 19, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
1920: The Year of Six Presidents is nominally the story of the 1920 election, but it's really an amusing snapshot of early-20th century American politics, and some of the major political figures of the time. Additionally, the title is a bit of a stretch- one of the six presidents to which it alludes, Teddy Roosevelt, died in January 1919. While Pietrusza asserts, plausibly, that Teddy would have had the 1920 nomination if he had lived, it's a tenuous connection given that his death preceded the ...more
Dennis Goshorn
Mar 07, 2013 Dennis Goshorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 13-in-2013, ibook
I've always been interested in this period of time and this book did not disappoint. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt & Herbert Hoover were the six presidents. The biggest "if" would have been if Theodore Roosevelt hadn't died in 1919—he was the obvious choice for the Republicans and would have gotten his third term. Interesting stuff for speculators.

As is usually true, real history is more interesting than speculation. For instance,
Apr 21, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Political junkies, take note. As the subtitle suggests, six different men who had been or would become presidents wove their way in and through the 1920 Presidential election : Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was a notable election in other ways as well. For example, it was the first presidential election in which women could vote nationally. Local technicalities kept some women from the polls, but the 19th Amendm ...more
Apr 16, 2010 Geoff rated it it was ok
FDR, Warren G. Harding-adultery.

FDR headed up a committee while under sec. of navy to investigate homosexual sailors in Rhode Island, considered at the time moral turpitude. The controversy involed undercover agents, young men, to engage in anything necessary to conduct investigation, i.e be a queer themselves. Strange how that issue has completely reversed for Dems.

Woodrow Wilson-pretentious, egotistical, high minded. This guy thought he was God's gift to government. Former college professor.

Jan 14, 2013 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"1920 The Year of the Six Presidents" is a well written detailed account of a period in US History which focuses on issues that we as a country are still defined by, and still grappling with. David Pietrusza’s well researched book recounts many of the events we are well acquainted with. The Progressive Movement, WWI, the League of Nations, Women’s Suffrage, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, big political party dominance, the US Socialist Party, the Red Scare, and Prohibition for example. As these historic ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This a very interesting and well written book about the 1920 election and post war United States. While the ultimate focus is the rise of Warren Harding, the book also casts light on several presidents and presidential aspirants. The work conveys the sheer hatred and paranoia that was Woodrow Wilson, he is quite frankly one of the worst men to be president. Additionally, the work describes how his wife and staff ran the country in the latter years of his term due to a stroke. The author identifi ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Du rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-govt
three and a half stars. I really like the way that the author pulled together various narratives and really created a strong feeling for the time and place the book takes place. The detail in the story in the interwoven narratives really brought a lot of interest and value to this obscure election of a president in 1920.

What I found most interesting was the way that the six presidents were drawn together. In reality only four played important roles as Teddy Roosevelt passed away early and Woodro
Jan 10, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally read this book after it had been on my radar for several years. It was a solid read about an underrated election in America's history. In some ways with both parties being somewhat open consensus, it has some similarity to 2016. I thought it could be a bit shorter.
David R.
Pietrusza has created a grand drama that centers on the election of 1920 (the one that yielded Warren Harding) and his special focus is on the "six presidents" whose political lives crossed in 1920. There are Theodore Roosevelt (expected to run in 1920 but died in 1919) and Woodrow Wilson whose foolish presidency ended in 1920 and which crippled his nominee-successor. There are Harding and Coolidge who won in 1920. And there are Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt who were major players in 192 ...more
Jonathan Frankel
Dec 29, 2014 Jonathan Frankel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Gives interesting account of lead up to nomination process. Tends to detail the "salacious" affairs a bit more than necessary. Six Presidents is also a bit of a stretch since TR was gone before even early primaries (what there were of primaries at the time). Worthwhile read.
Phil Hill
May 09, 2016 Phil Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Nicely written with historical fact, humor and excellent detail made this an outstanding read. 1920 will never be forgotten for all the changes that took place in American society which affects how our nation is today. The good, the bad and the ugly is my rendition of these 6 political figures or maybe that is just the way it is in the limelight of national politics. Why FDR would not aid Hoover's request for the banking industry, FDR as Secretary of the Navy and the homosexual scandal @ Portsmo ...more
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David Pietrusza has produced a number of critically-acclaimed works concerning 20th century American history.

His book "1960: LBJ vs JFK vs Nixon: The Epic Campaign that Forged Three Presidencies" was named by ForeWord Magazine as among the best political biographies.

Pietrusza's "1920: The Year of the Six Presidents" received a Kirkus starred review, was honored as a Kirkus "Best Books of 2007" tit

More about David Pietrusza...

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