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Coolidge

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,123 Ratings  ·  415 Reviews
Calvin Coolidge, who served as president from 1923 to 1929, never rated highly in polls. The shy Vermonter, nicknamed "Silent Cal," has long been dismissed as quiet and passive. History has remembered the decade in which he served as a frivolous, extravagant period predating the Great Depression. Now Amity Shlaes, the author known for her riveting, unexpected portrait of t ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Harper (first published February 4th 2013)
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Amity Shlaes
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is just a note from the author to say: hope you enjoy COOLIDGE. He was much fun to follow. Please talk to me and CC on the author page on facebook, we do answer emails there.
We also have an author page, Amityshlaes.com.

A number of book clubs have asked why COOLIDGE might be of interest.
Here are several answers:
Coolidge's life tells governments and families how to budget, and explores the link. The Coolidges got twin lion cubs and named them Budget Bureau and Tax Reduction. That is all you
...more
Joseph
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tucked in between Woodrow Wilson and FDR were three presidents that are not usually given too much attention. Harding died in office leaving his vice president, Calvin Coolidge, to take over. Following Coolidge is Hoover, a great man, but remembered for Hoovervilles and the Great Depression.

Coolidge himself is a remarkable man and provides a very interesting biography. A great speaker and the first president to make a radio address, he was better known as "Silent Cal." The story goes that a din
...more
Mara

Despite Amity Shlaes hitting all the requisites for a good biography, Calvin Coolidge has earned a spot on my meh list (though, rumor has it, such lists are, themselves now considered ’meh’). Maybe I was biased by his little stern, lipless face but he just never struck me as being all that likable. 

I’m by no means an anomaly in my tepid response to Silent Cal. It seems that, back in the day, Amherst College had quite the Greek Life going (surprising unto itself). However (and you’ll have to excu

...more
Tony
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: presidents
Do events recycle, I wonder. Or is it just that the World turns, the seasons bringing the same tragedies? Is there agonistes in each of us revealing itself through school, employment, marriage, deaths?

It was a hundred years ago, more or less, when this story of Calvin Coolidge played out. Yet, reading this, I felt at times as if I had turned on CNN.

- An anarchist’s bomb in a horse-drawn cart explodes outside J.P. Morgan’s headquarters with many deaths. A far greater explosion than any of the in
...more
Adam Yoshida
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Is there greatness in inaction?

We have a tendency to celebrate leaders - and Presidents - who are doers. In that sense, Amity Shales' "Coolidge" is truly a sequel to her last book, the genuinely excellent "The Forgotten Man." In that book she argued that Franklin Roosevelt - though he remains one of America's most-venerated Presidents - did more harm than good in trying to combat the Depression through his policy of "bold, persistent experimentation", which resulted in wild swings of government
...more
Joe
May 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: listened-to
Book thirteen of my Presidential Challenge. There is no President who deserved the word "cool" in his name less than President Coolidge. This guy was Boring with a capital B. I can see why Reagan liked him though. Coolidge's one issue was fiscal conservatism. He wanted to shrink the government and by golly by the time he left office he did.

So what? Granted, I don't believe his policies (or probably Hoovers for that matter) caused the Great Depression but they sure didn't help and were ultimately
...more
Arminius
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated with the cabinet members of the presidencies of the 1920’s. They were a group of superstars. President Harding and Coolidge shared Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. Hughes was a former Governor and Supreme Court Justice. They also shared Andrew Mellon. Mellon was the banking giant who understood the American economy and the world’s economy.
Coolidge’s vice president was Charles Dawes. Dawes served as America’s Controller of Currency which charters, regulates,
...more
Jim
Jul 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Calvin Coolidge is a hero for some conservatives and libertarians. The author wrote a biography about a president wherein she could not find a single bad thing to say about the man.

Coolidge came to national attention by firing the Boston Policeman that were striking for better wages in 1919. Everyone (including Coolidge) agreed the Boston Police were underpaid at the time. Workers had not had wage increases during the First World War, but the war had produced inflation, so prices had gone up. B
...more
Carl Rollyson
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The top-hatted Calvin Coolidge who gazes out at readers from the cover of Amity Shlaes’ engrossing new biography seems different from the caricature of the dry, parsimonious New Englander who is usually passed over on the historian’s way to Herbert Hoover’s crash and FDR’s New Deal. Shlaes wants us to see a determined, even-tempered man: Note the neatly horizontal line of the mouth, balanced by wide-open eyes that seem to bounce with life.

In short, there is more to silent Cal — as he was nicknam
...more
Bryn Dunham
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed reading and making the parallels between the times of Coolidge and the choices he faced and those we currently face. Coolidge proved that lower taxes, especially for the producers of wealth, may not be popular with the weaker members of society and Marxist agitators in public office, but they are sound economics that benefit all.

The author makes the point throughout this terrific book that Coolidge was principled and had a strong character by resisting public pressure to "do
...more
Karla
Despite Silent Cal being a native son, and taking a school field trip to the Coolidge Homestead back in the day, I knew precious little about the more famous of the two presidents who hailed from Vermont. After reading Schlaes' biography, I'm confident I know more in terms of facts and details, but context is another thing.

The weakest point, and it pervades the entire book, is a narrow prism of how Coolidge's actions and policies are viewed. One can definitely get a sense of the author's own pol
...more
carl  theaker
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
With the a 4.1 trillion dollar budget proposed for the US for 2016 and an increasing 19 trillion dollar national debt, “Silent Cal” as President Coolidge was known, must be screaming from his Vermont grave!

As the country’s 30th President, Coolidge’s primary goal was to reduce the 3.3 billion dollar budget and the 28 billion dollar national debt, which was mostly incurred by World War I.
The difference in the billion-trillion numbers boggles budget conscious mind!

Many people could identify a P
...more
Charles
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My conclusion, after reading this book, is that Calvin Coolidge is grossly under-rated. Actually, that’s not quite right, because to be under-rated, you first have to be known. As far as I can tell, nearly nobody in America today knows much if anything about Coolidge. I certainly didn’t before reading this book. Yet not only is Coolidge a fascinating character study, his political life and his Presidency hold important lessons for today.

Coolidge was successively governor of Massachusetts, Vice P
...more
Anthony
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Why read about Calvin Coolidge you say? I'll admit that Coolidge doesn't inspire a lot of excitement - he isn't celebrated like his Republican predecessor, Lincoln, or the iconic Washington. And while reading this latest biography I was bashfully amused at the mocking comment of a friend of mine who picked up my copy to say, "Coolidge? That is probably the president I've thought the least about." My friend's comments reflect a common sentiment - there isn't a lot of focus on Coolidge in our basi ...more
Mark
May 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: croah
Calvin Coolidge is a president who has been defined not by the times in which he lived but in the ones which followed -- specifically the Great Depression, for which he has received a share of the blame. Amity Shlaes's goal, however, is not to bury Coolidge but to praise him by arguing that his policies promote national prosperity through austerity. Yet her argument relies on a good deal of post hoc fallacy that is often contradicted by the very facts she cites (such as her continual reference t ...more
Peter
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If this country ever regains some sanity when it comes to economics and the proper role of government it will owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Shlaes. In so eloquently portraying the life of Calvin Coolidge and the sound ideas that he practiced, she has done us all a great service. As in "The Forgotten Man," we are once again reminded of the folly of "progressive" ideas, especially now. I am old enough to remember tales of the Depression from my parents and grandparents. Old enough, too, to rememb ...more
David Monroe
Feb 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Twaddle. Absolute twaddle. Amity Shlaes tries to polish the turd that is the Coolidge presidency, and it just can't be done. Coolidge, the man is a fascinating enigma of contradictions, it's a shame she mostly focused on an attempt to rehab his presidency. It can't be done. This almost, almost veers into alternate history and is, in fact, an attempt at Right Wing revisionist history. It's bad history, bad intent and bad in general. This is just so much Tea Party soft porn; something made to be h ...more
Bob
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Summary: An account of Coolidge as a man of quiet conviction who presided over a great American transformation.

Calvin Coolidge was always one of those presidents who was a name on the list of presidents who otherwise seemed unmemorable. Especially in a time of a president who dominates the news coverage, Coolidge might come as a pleasant breath of fresh air--someone who cared more for deeds than words, and sometimes influenced more by what he did not do. Perhaps he is not better known simply bec
...more
David Prichard
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pleased to have finally completed this lively biography of a tremendously underrated US president. In contrast to most subsequent American leaders popularly associated with "free markets" and "small government", Calvin Coolidge was more than just talk (something of which "Silent Cal" did famously little, anyway).

Alongside key allies inside his cabinet, he led a genuine and effective drive for thrift in government and steadfastly resisted the growing clamour for expansion. He successfully enacted
...more
Frank Theising
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bio-presidents
I think most people have a natural tendency to give a biography higher marks if they share political or ideological positions with the subject and lower marks if the subject resides on the opposite end of the spectrum. So I feel compelled to preface this review by clarifying that, as both conservative and a proponent of fiscal discipline, my low mark for this bio stems from other reasons:

First off, Coolidge is just not that exciting a subject to begin with. His personal life prior to politics ha
...more
Steve
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2015/...

“Coolidge” is Amity Shlaes’s 2013 bestselling biography of the thirtieth president. Shlaes is a former editor at The Wall Street Journal and a former columnist for the Financial Times and Bloomberg magazine. She is currently chair of the board of trustees for the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and author of “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.”

Often remembered for his impassive demeanor and cold frugality, Coolidge finds hims
...more
GoldGato
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a very solid 3-star bio, filled with facts upon facts about the 30th President of the United States, Mr. Calvin Coolidge. We get the full scale chronology from birth to death, which makes this a big, big book.

Coolidge was in the class of Presidents who were distinguished for character more than for heroic achievements.

The little dude from Vermont ended up being wedged between Harding and Hoover, yet another example of the Americans producing the right man at the right time. Harding had b
...more
Jeff Raymond
One of my favorite economic history books is The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes. A take on the Great Depression that you rarely see from mainstream writers, it did a great job cutting to the chase regarding Depression-era economics. When I saw that Shlaes was doing a biography on Calvin Coolidge, all the better!

First, this is very much a political biography. While there's plenty about his family and his life before politics, it's all framed within the context of his politics and political career.
...more
Simon
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Nice try, Amity. She wants us to believe that Calvin Coolidge is one of the unsung "great" presidents. There are a couple of stumbling blocks (the Great Depression that ended the unsound economics of the 1920s economy and the man himself.) While it is true that Calvin was financially prudent, which is a polite way of saying "cheap", and diligently cut the federal budget on an almost daily basis, he did nothing to rein in the speculators who swarmed Wall Street during his administrations, or to e ...more
John Behle
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: settle in for '20s boater hat ride
Recommended to John by: Baltimore County library staff
An afternoon ride in a rumble seat roadster. Don your straw boater hat, your "Keep Cool With Coolidge" button, and enjoy this slice of life, Americana style.

While it helps to be a history buff, that is not a pre-req for enjoying this deeply researched, well crafted work.

Calvin Coolidge was a smart, loyal, hard working, scandal free, loving man from that Green Mountain state, Vermont. He meets challenges at Amherst College, finds his niche as a detail minded lawyer, enters public life and succeed
...more
Popzara Press
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Throughout Shlaes’ biography is the sense of reclamation of Coolidge for today’s Grand Old Party, one badly in need of a paragon of free-market ideals and small-government solutions, even positioning the 30th president as a missing link between conservative heroes Reagan (who championed Coolidge) and Lincoln (who Coolidge admired greatly). On this point it does a fine job presenting an overview of a man more renown for policy than personality. On reconciliation for the great good: “To reorient.. ...more
Bill Powers
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding biography of a POTUS who is poorly understood and no longer taught in our schools. He would be aghast to see the out of control behemoth that our federal gov't has become!

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent."

C. Coolidge
Chad
Sep 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is the first Coolidge biography I've read, though it's about the twentieth separate presidential biography I've read, as I'm currently working my way through at least one biography of each president. This is, hands down, out of all the reading I've done in the last six months, the most ideologically driven, to the detriment of the work, which disregards facts in favor of Shlaes pre-determined conclusions. At least Will Bunch's "Tear Down This Myth" and William Kleinknecht's "The Man Who Sol ...more
Suzanne
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There have been times when debt pinned down the United States as it once pinned down Oliver [Coolidge]. One such moment came after World War I, when the national debt hit $27 billion, a level nine times higher than what it had been just a few years before. Income tax rates were high. Jobs were becoming scarce. Angry veterans roamed the streets of cities, furious that they could not pay prices for food or clothing that were double what they had been before the war. The country did seem lost, i ...more
Mark King
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Too much of the author's political perspective bleeds through to make this as good as I hoped. Coolidge deserves a great biography, not one that forces his life to be a standard for today's conservatives.

Examples of this spin include stating that Wilson was fixating on the League of Nations and facilitating when it came to the Boston police strike, leaving Coolidge as the sole leader in that crisis,yet applauding Coolidge, "in a test of federalism", for not traveling to Mississippi or Vermont d
...more
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Interview of author 1 29 Feb 13, 2013 09:25AM  
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Amity Shlaes graduated from Yale University magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982.

Shlaes writes a column for Forbes, and served as a nationally syndicated columnist for over a decade, first at the Financial Times, then at Bloomberg. Earlier, she worked at the Wall Street Journal, where she was a member of the editorial board. She is the author of "Coolidge," "The Forgotten Ma
...more
“I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue.” 1 likes
“Isn’t it a strange thing,” he asked Barton, “that in every period of social unrest men have the notion that they can pass a law and suspend the operations of economic law?” 1 likes
More quotes…