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1917: Vladimir Lenin, Woodrow Wilson, and the Year that Created the Modern Age
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1917: Vladimir Lenin, Woodrow Wilson, and the Year that Created the Modern Age

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  92 reviews
In 1917, Arthur Herman examines one crucial year and the two figures at its center who would set the course of modern world history: Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin. Though they were men of very different backgrounds and experiences, Herman reveals how Wilson and Lenin were very much alike. Both rose to supreme power, one through a democratic election; the other through ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published November 28th 2017 by Harper
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Carol Storm
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Fascinating history that covers an enormous amount of ground from bread riots in Czarist Russia to Woodrow Wilson's political infighting with Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. The author's ultra-conservative viewpoint makes it slow-going at times, however. Dozens of references to "brutal" Lenin and "bloody" Trotsky, but Wilson's tacit support for lynching, murder and racial terror in the Jim Crow south is barely mentioned.

Victor Davis Hanson gave this book a fawning blurb, and that's never
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, biography, history
Save me from the exceptional...

In 1917, the USA finally entered World War I after years of pusillanimous dithering, and Russia threw its revolution after years of poverty and imperialist wars. In this book, Herman looks at the two men who led those events, Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin, and suggests that out of their respective philosophies of power grew the 20th century and all of its horrors.

Normally, when reviewing a major history book, I find that even though I might not like the style o
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Wilson and Lenin are major historic figures, normally not associated with each other. However, they were contemporaries and played key roles in changing the futures of their country at the same time. They even both had strokes and died around the same time.

The author does a great job of putting the reader at the center of events focusing on the year 1917.

Obviously Lenin was a terrible thing to happen to Russia, but the decisions made by Wilson were also tragic in the scheme of things for the fut
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It's hard even giving this book 3 stars after that mess of a conclusion. Jesus Christ — we're told that Lenin invented terrorism (seriously), that ISIS are basically communists, and the U.S needs to act now to prevent China from plunging the world into another epochal catastrophe... It's pretty bad. Maybe skip the conclusion on this one. I did like it though, and so in accordance with Goodread's rating system, 3 stars it is.

I did like much of this book, the author's often cartoonishly American e
Daniel Sladek
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The book covers a fascinating period of history. I enjoyed the book, but found it off-putting that the author occasionally couldn't restrain his opinions. He sometimes seeks to make tenuous extrapolations from the period in question to current affairs. For example, suggesting that Russian society lags far behind the West, or that many contemporary problems arise from the fact that France still thinks of itself as a great power. He offers no substantiation for these assertions, and they are not g ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the roles Wilson and Lenin (and others) played during and after The Great War.
A few non-exhaustive notes from the book:
- If Wilson had listened to Lodge regarding the League of Nations, instead of fighting him to the end, it can be argued that there would have been no Hitler or Mussolini or WWII, possibly, not even a Great Depression.
- Wilson's racism affected his policies toward China and Japan, both before and after the Paris Peace Conference, in ways that would sow the see
Shirley (stampartiste)
I don't know why it took me so long to finish this book, other than the fact that it covers so much material. It is really very interesting, with a unique angle of comparing U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's vision of a post WWI world to Vladimir Lenin's vision of a worldwide proletarian revolution. They were alike in so many ways, primarily in their arrogance and inability to see others' viewpoints. Opponents were viewed as evil enemies. Oddly enough, both men died of strokes within a couple of w ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An important book for anyone who seeks to understand how the political stage was set throughout the 20th century. There are so many seemingly small hinges upon which massive events would turn - our delay in getting involved in WWI, the Germans helping Lenin get back into Russia, etc. Lenin and Wilson's own philosophies - having some common roots, yet diverging wildly in implementation and intent - both had profound impact on the world we live in 100 years later. The author doesn't pull any punch ...more
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is on both Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin. At first one might think these men are diametrically different from one another but the author Arthur Herman successfully show reader how much the two of them are alike and how both men shaped what the twentieth century would be like. A fascinating historical book even for those who know about both men since this work is still profitable for readers to see the comparison and contrast of the two men and also the timeline of both their lives. ...more
Chris Allen
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Saw this book at the library and picked it up because the subject fascinates me and because the author was obviously drawing, or attempting to draw parallels, between two of the pivotal figures in the 20th century in Wilson and Lenin. Sounded interesting. Turned it over, as I always do, to the "Advance Praise" section on the back cover and lost some of my enthusiasm almost immediately, as the first three blurbs come from Steve Forbes, Victor Davis Hanson and Robert Kagan, two of which are notabl ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it

Herman is refreshingly critical of American global hegemony without dipping into the radical isolationism of Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan. The ultimate message at the end of the book is that America has a role to play in the international scene but cannot bear the weight of this role alone like Wilson thought it could. Removing America from the international scene like many isolationists want would only doom America to intervening in another conflict later lik
Ben House
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
“Emerging from the forge of war in 1917 was the active role of government in every aspect of daily life, and the rising expectation that government can fix every problem and deal with every crisis from economic depression to childcare and climate change.” (Page 236)

This past year marked the 100th year anniversary of the Russian Revolutions. Most of the applauding and celebrating came from those who rejoiced in the fall, rather than the rise of Communist Russia. The Russian Revolution(s) is a sto
A must read for all interested in international relations and the history of the XX Century. Extremely well researched and written. Dr. Arthur Herman lays out how Lenin's and Wilson's powerful personalities and positions combined with their ideological views of societal forces and world order to shape the XX Century. Despite their lack of touch with reality and pragmatism these two leaders more than any others of their time influenced future events well into the late years of the XX Century, cre ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The historical narrative is well-researched and well-written, the conclusion is strange and it’s unclear exactly what the author thinks should have been done in 1917 or what should be done going forward. Also his views of the Chinese government as agents of orthodox (and therefore revolutionary) Marxism-Leninism is a bit odd given the history of China since Mao’s death. Also it’s strange that the author insists that Wilson is at fault for the League of Nations bill failing and not Cabot Lodge bu ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It seemed to focus more on Wilson than Lenin but thats fine. Some people complain when I book beats you over the head with a point, and this one does, but its a point that people should get drilled into their heads. That point is this is progressivism unleashed. The unmovable, sanctimonious, righteous, stubborn worldview that Lenin and Wilson have in that they are right and everyone else is wrong is whats dogmatic about progressivism and what makes it dangerous. ...more
Jack Janzen
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked the detailed history surrounding Wilson and Lenin as much as their direct actins. It is a lesson that there can be too much of a good idea. Utopias were and are illusions that have a propensity to degenerate to something evil.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Harper Collins.

Today's Nonfiction post is on 1917: Vladimir Lenin, Woodrow Wilson, and the Year that Created the Modern Age by Arthur Herman. It is 448 pages long and is published by Harper Collins. The cover has the eyes of the two leaders with the title below in red. The intended reader is someone interested in World War 1 history. There is some mild language, no sex, and talk of violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead
Marsa Terrell
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, the book is an interesting and compelling look at the intersection and influence of Lenin's Bolshevik revolution and Wilson's ideas for the United States as a light/example to the world. The author maneuvers between Lenin, Wilson and their European counterparts in such a way as to demonstrate the interconnectedness of decisions made on all sides of events from 1917 on that still have ramifications to today.

The book comes across assuming the reader has more than cursory knowledge of WWI,
Joe Stack
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book exceeded my expectations. Not only is it well-written and engaging, the author also makes some familiar material feel new and fresh. I found some of the chapters page turning even though I knew the outcomes. The author has an interesting premise in comparing Wilson's & Lenin's personalities & behaviors as they react and respond to the events of 1917 (and the following two years). The similarities of Wilson & Lenin, their different utopian visions, fueled contrasting futures. I enjoyed ...more
James Schisler
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book begins with an interesting premise, setting out to make the case that Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin were profoundly similar men with a singular impact on the course of history from the early twentieth century to today. The author did draw compelling parallels between Wilson and Lenin, especially the degree to which each was an idealogue and how that trait impacted the political scene and their lives. However, rather than presenting a focused interpretation of the events of 1917 to ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history
The history is fascinating, the most surprising details were about the WWI covert German support for Lenin and revolution within Russia- the radical aims of Lenin were irrelevant because chaos would make Russia a weak opponent in WWI, and those aims were irrelevant to Lenin because world-wide Marxist revolution would surely soon topple a victorious Kaiser anyhow. That has to be one of the most disastrous cases of blowback ever?

The central story of centuries of the multi-national 'great game' giv
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Disagreement with some of the author's political conclusions aside, this is an interesting look into a pivotal year in history, hopping back and forth between Wilson and Lenin. I find it puzzling that the author spends much of his book portraying Wilson as hopelessly idealistic, with a messianic complex and Hegelian delusions of grandeur that in his mind placed himself at the center of the inevitable forces of history, yet he concludes the book with a call to America doubling down on its role of ...more
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
Honesty time, Not much of this was new to me and there were times that it read as slow as molasses, maybe because of that.

BUT, the conclusions about Wilson were insightful and in line with what I have always thought. They were the true golden nuggets Herman's work.

In a nutshell, his actions have always seemed noble; it was his stubbornness, the ideals of upbringing in the Protestant faith and bigotry that really failed him. They failed him and the believers in him then and they fail a deeper ins
Carl  Palmateer
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at Lenin and Wilson, their impacts, their interactions and especially their similarities. And as the author described the beginning and course of Wilson's progressive-ism and his personality I couldn't help thinking of President Obama some 100 years later for there are many overlaps with Wilson. Of course Wilson would have exploded/been mortified at the idea of being compared to a black man or having one in the White House.

Back to the book, which has 1917 as the first focal
Joe Strnad
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Compelling and engaging historic non fiction. Arthur Herman provides historic context for Europe, Russia, and the US at the outbreak of WWI. Discussion of Woodrow Wilson's motivations for keeping the US out of the war, and then when finally pulled in, how his morality shaped US foreign policy going forward. We get loads of background on V.I. Lenin's life, (mis)understanding of Marx, early stabs at revolution, life in exile, return to Russia (once the Czar had already abdicated.) Herman argues th ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was informative and I learned a few things that I didn't know before (despite having studied the Russian Revolution and WWI pretty extensively). That said, the author's bias made reading this book a struggle a lot of the time. When he stuck to presenting the facts and the story it was quite enjoyable, but as soon as he began to editorialize---which was often---it was tough to take him seriously. He quite obviously hates VI Lenin and Wilson both, and so it was a bit bizarre to read such ...more
Brian Skinner
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book shows how similar Vladimir Lenin and Woodrow Wilson were. They were both utopians who both in their own way messed up the future for their respective countries. Lenin was far more evil but Woodrow Wilson could be ruthless as well as evidenced by his mass jailing of citizens for exercising their freedom of speech. I liked a particular part where it talked about Wilson giving a speech in the Salt lake tabernacle. He quoted one of his rivals Henry Cabot lodge and instead of showing their ...more
Randall Russell
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, because the author presented a number of unique perspectives on both Lenin and Wilson, as well as the events of 1917. I can't say that I found all of the author's arguments completely convincing, but I think a lot of them had enough to them that they made me reconsider some of my opinions. I also thought that the author presented a least of couple of "missed opportunities," where if Wilson or Lenin had acted differently, the outcome of the end of WWI and the negotiation of t ...more
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was curious about WWI, since I've heard so little about it, so I picked this up. What a read. Fascinating and well researched, this tome enlightened me about Wilson, Lenin, WWI, and how it all effected what we're experiencing today. Both men believed that what they wanted was for the good of all humanity. Much of what they did paved the way to WWII. I couldn't help seeing parallels between Wilson's arrogance and Trump's, and Lenin's demands for obedience with what Trump has been expressing of ...more
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Arthur L. Herman (born 1956) is an American popular historian, currently serving as a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. He generally employs the Great Man perspective in his work, which is 19th Century historical methodology attributing human events and their outcomes to the singular efforts of great men that has been refined and qualified by such modern thinkers as Sidney Hook.

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