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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  7,462 ratings  ·  427 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
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Gabriel Henriquez I had a huge problem with this. Andrew Scott Berg, regardless of the "times," seemed to go out of his way to excuse his absolutely deplorable racist p…moreI had a huge problem with this. Andrew Scott Berg, regardless of the "times," seemed to go out of his way to excuse his absolutely deplorable racist policies. Additionally, he resorted to "what-aboutism" when he mentioned Eugene Debs' purported racism. It was really a low-effort biography, and we must hold the author accountable. Really though, the biography seemed to be far more concerned with excusing his racism rather than writing an accurate account of the life of Woodrow Wilson, and as such, made the book far less accurate. (less)
David Celley I can't speak for the bio, but I can say that this author did a marvelous job in writing this book. It's very thorough and covers all aspects of Wilso…moreI can't speak for the bio, but I can say that this author did a marvelous job in writing this book. It's very thorough and covers all aspects of Wilson's life without over proportioning any one aspect.(less)

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 ·  7,462 ratings  ·  427 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
”The future is not for parties ‘playing politics,’ but for measures conceived in the largest spirit, pushed by parties whose leaders are statesmen, not demagogues, who love not their offices, but their duty and their opportunity for service.”---Woodrow Wilson


Woodrow Wilson was the eighth and last president from the state of Virginia. Ohio also can claim eight presidents, of whom four died in office. Only eight presidents have died in office so there is something extremely unlucky about winni
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Steven Peterson
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jay Connor
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 –
“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
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, 15
Woodrow Wilson is an historical figure that deserves an updated in depth biography of both his life and times. In just over two years he went from a little to somewhat known scholar and university head to the White House. During his two terms as president, he took the Progressive baton that Theodore Roosevelt had handed to his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft - who arguably didn't know what to do with it - and proceeded to lead the country into the 20th Century both domestically and in ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
robin friedman
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Scott Berg's Biography Of Woodrow Wilson

Scott Berg's new biography, "Wilson", is the second lengthy biography of the 28th president written in the past four years, following the 2009 "Woodrow Wilson: A Biography" by Wilson scholar John Milton Cooper, Jr. Berg writes to a greater degree than does Cooper for a broad, popular audience with four previous biographies, including a Pulitzer-Prize winning book on Charles Lindbergh, to his credit. This new biography is a fully-researched thoughtful boo
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant unvarnished truth about a racist President. Wilson refused to allow blacks to attend Princeton when he was the Dean and flatly refused to have blacks fight with whites in World War 1. Not only was his mental capacity in error , his body endured a stroke so severe that he was blind in one eye and this was even before he ran for office !! His stroke as President is well documented as we was so feeble during those years that he hardly ever got out of bed.
Hs political career was also a m
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it

“Wilson” is A. Scott Berg’s full-scale biography of the 28th president which was published in 2013. Like Wilson, Berg was a graduate of Princeton University. He is best-known for his 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Lindbergh” but has also written about Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn.

Taking more than a decade to research and write, “Wilson” was sparked by the author’s lifelong affinity for Wilson and by Berg’s service on Princeton’s Board of Tr
Tim McIntosh
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Many historians consider Woodrow Wilson one of the finest presidents in our country’s history. Yet compared to Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Franklin Roosevelt, few Americans know anything about him.

Why is Wilson—who presided over one of the modernizing eras in history—so unremembered? Partly because his reputation has fallen. When I told friends I was reading a biography about Woodrow Wilson, one of the most complicated figures in American political history, most reacted with ire. Dad told me h
Dec 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography, history
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
Frank Theising
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A very thorough, if hagiographic Wilson biography. Berg gets a lot of things right with this one. He faithfully captures many aspects of his life, personality, and politics. He also does a good job of putting Wilson’s decisions in their historical and geopolitical context. I finished with a greater appreciation of Wilson’s bold and visionary leadership on the world stage. Unfortunately, I think Berg’s admiration for his subject prevented him from offering a more balanced and objective analysis i ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: presidents, history
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
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Alice Meloy
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Arminius
Shelves: biography, audiobook
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
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Summary: A definitive biography of Woodrow Wilson, that traces the arc of his life from boyhood to professor to college president to U.S. president in biblical terms fitting for this deeply religious man.

For many of us, Woodrow Wilson is the somewhat tragic figure associated with the cruel peace of Versailles that sowed the seeds of World War II, the unwillingness of Congress to embrace U.S. entry into the League of Nations, and the secrets of his final year as president, severely impaired by a
Aaron Million
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was hesitant about purchasing this book because I had read several reviews indicating that Berg was an unabashed Wilson supporter, whereas I wanted a biography more balanced than that of John Milton Cooper, Jr.'s work from 2009. Unfortunately, the reviews proved correct: Berg's biography is even more hagiographic than Cooper's was. Also, the chapters were long with very few breaks contained within them. Berg frequently goes from topic to another without a clear demarcation on the page; typical ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Colleen Browne
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I would have given this book 5 stars except for two reasons. One is the "Lost Cause" interpretation that the author appears to foster about Reconstruction and the other that there were a few factual inaccuracies. One of these inaccuracies was the claim that Jeannette Rankin was a Democrat. She was not. He was a Republican, although a progressive one. Now these inaccuracies don't have any profound impact on the book but they do suggest that the editing process wasn't as thorough as it should have ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At one time Woodrow Wilson was always ranked among the greatest of our presidents especially after
World War II when I was growing up. He was the great martyr to the cause of international peace,
brought low by the intrigues of narrow minded Republican Senators. In point of fact he could be as
narrow minded as many who opposed him. A. Scott Berg gives us the whole picture of Wilson.

The story begins in 1856 when Wilson is born to Dr. Joseph Wilson a Presbyterian minister in Staunton, Virginia and la
Pierre Lauzon
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing and well-researched book about Woodrow Wilson, World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, and a rapidly changing American Society during his era.

My biggest takeaway from the book is that Edith Wilson was not the de Facto President during Wilson's stroke convalescence but rather a very protective and loving wife that might have been happier if he had resigned from office. Edith was put up to the situation by Wilson's Chief of Staff and personal physician.

I now see Wilson as an idea
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened-to
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
Peter Beck
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
In his Acknowledgements, A. Scott Berg states that he has been reading biographies of Wilson for five decades, "but I kept feeling that I had never read a book that captured the essence of his character" (p. 747) Berg does precisely that in his 743-page tou de force. Indeed, he has written the definitive single-volume work on the life of Woodrow Wilson. The book has just the right level of detail and never gets bogged down. The final 20 pages will require you to have tissues handy.

Just as impor
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Uwe Hook
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting and thoroughly readable book that tries to make a case for Wilson's central role in the Progressive Era. Unfortunately, I do not agree and concur with Dr.Arthur Link, that this honor belongs to Theodore Roosevelt. Another flaw is the failure to question Wilson's assumptions concerning the effectiveness of the League of Nations in preventing a Second World War or to promote peace anywhere. This assumption on Wilson's and that of his supporters is not fact and appears questionable b ...more
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“It floats!” These two words threatened to sink Woodrow Wilson. Soap had been part of civilization for at least four thousand years, going as far back as the Babylonians, who had discovered a formula for water, alkali, and oils that could dissolve dirt and grease. In the 1830s, a man named Alexander Norris suggested that his two sons-in-law—one of whom made candles, the other soap—merge their companies. William Procter and James Gamble did just that, making a small fortune together as purveyors to the Union army during the Civil War. A decade later, Gamble’s son created a phenomenon, combining a strong laundry detergent and a gentle cleaner and whipping in enough air to keep the white cake of soap from sinking. Its two-word advertising campaign helped turn Ivory soap into an American household staple for another century and Procter & Gamble into one of America’s leading manufacturers.” 0 likes
“Wilson introduced Daylight Saving Time to America, which created an extra hour of farm work every day” 0 likes
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