Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “1920: The Year of the Six Presidents” as Want to Read:
1920: The Year of the Six Presidents
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

1920: The Year of the Six Presidents

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,130 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The presidential election of 1920 was one of the most dramatic ever. For the only time in the nation's history, six once-and-future presidents hoped to end up in the White House: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Theodore Roosevelt. It was an election that saw unprecedented levels of publicity -- the Republic ...more
Hardcover, 533 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published December 8th 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,130 ratings  ·  126 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
After reading Pietrusza's entertaining account of the 1948 election, I was looking forward to how he would deal with another presidential contest, one that now feels more relevant to 2020 than would seem to be the case. As with the other book, he does an excellent job of tying together the various events and personalities that made that election fascinating.

The 1920 election took place on the heels of a pair of tragedies. World War I had ended not long before; the unsatisfying attempt by Preside
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
1920: The Year of the Six Presidents is misleading because Teddy Roosevelt, one of the six, doesn’t make past 1919….but the author makes him part of the story anyway. There are a number of interesting historical facts in this story of politics between the world wars. I was completely unaware that FDR ran for Vice President in 1920. FDR is not admirable while Hoover is. Harding doesn’t come across as the caricature he has become. Coolidge seems a little more human than commonly accepted and Woodr ...more
Lauren Albert
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Doreen Petersen
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: presidents
It was just okay but I probably wouldn’t bother with this one.
Lauren Hiebner
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Pietrusza’s book is very readable with some sensationalism in covering the events leading up to the 1920 presidential election. The author tends to dwell on the seamy side of the characters in a tell all book with a pinch of wit and a dash of sarcasm. I’m not sure why, but possibly to humanize the people involved. This is a micro-history of the 1920 presidential election with tremendous detail well researched by the author. The author depends on newspaper articles of that time period some of whi ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Aug 21, 2007 marked it as decided-not-to-read
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
Katlyn Calia
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, presidents, 2017
Poorly structured- some interesting parts, but some very repetitive parts and way too much listing ballot counts
Stan  Prager
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of: 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents, by David Pietrusza
by Stan Prager (June 4, 2016)

In an election year that at first glance seems unprecedented – the Republican nominee is not really a Republican, a woman is likely for the first time to head up a national ticket, and her stubborn rival for the Democratic nomination is not really a Democrat – I turned to historian David Pietrusza as a reminder that this is hardly the first Presidential electoral cycle branded with the air of the pecu
Kristi Thielen
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this a decade ago and reread it in 2020. 1920 was a singularly important election year, not just because of who was ultimately elected, but because of how the men who were in the 1920 political orbit impacted America for the next 20 years. I think it possible that the election of 2020 will be like that, too.

In 1920, Woodrow Wilson was president. Teddy Roosevelt wanted to run for president but died before he could do so. Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge ran on the republican ticket
F.C. Schaefer
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
John Ryan
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING........And we thought that the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Campaigns were something else..... I want to compel you to read THIS one.....
Imagine "6" very INTENSE Campaigners: six once-and-future presidents hoped to end up in the White House: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Theodore Roosevelt. It was an election that saw unprecedented levels of publicity. A GREAT Historical READ...
Brett Van Gaasbeek
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As much as Harding is "fly over" territory of Presidential history, his election in 1920 is fascinating from the standpoint that it was the end of the Progressive movement of TR and Wilson and the beginning of the "Roaring 20s" mentality of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. The 1920s Presidents are overlooked, so it is interesting to see how Pietrusza humanizes them in the book. This was a fast read and excellent narrative history, told with a fair look into the lives of these historical figures. ...more
A bit misleading in its title

An interesting read. But by 1920 only two were actual Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson. One was the actual subject of the book, Harding. And the other were just Presidents to be: Cooledge, FDR and Hoover. A bit misleading and not all that dramatic as it lead on.
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it enough to purchase extra copies for friends and family
Mark Greathouse
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding history of an era when the early manifestation of the progressive movement began to metastasize, spreading its cancerous anti-republic tentacles within the U.S. government.
Jared Goerke
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1920 The Year of Six Presidents, David Pietrusza has lent his brilliant ability to a historic election. After reading his book 1960--LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies, I didn’t think it was possible for him to match the quality and entertaining narrative, and I am thrilled to say I was wrong.

It is always remarkable to think about how different the world is only 100 years later. To think that Woodrow Wilson was able to cover up his complete inability to ac
Anthony Bergen
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(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

Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Woodrow Wilson thought thirteen was his lucky number. His name contained thirteen letters. He taught at Princeton for thirteen years. He was the thirteenth president. David Pietrusza includes little titbits like that in this easy to read book. Wilson was dyslexic and very determined to succeed.
The six presidents comprise Wilson, the two Roosevelts, Herbert Hoover, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
"Wilson had suffered a stroke... and his health never fully recovered- and his judgment may have s
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
With the exception of Pietrusza’s vague favor for Harding and vague antipathy for Wilson and FDR, I thought this was a fascinating recapitulation of an election that actually involved 6.5 presidents (I give partial credit for Taft). Numerous times throughout the narrative, I found myself taking to Wikipedia to learn more about someone or other, which is generally the sign of a historical story told compellingly.

If anything else, this book convinced me of the worth of Calvin Coolidge, whom, as a
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, sold
This a fun book by one of my favorite authors, David Pietrusza.

It was 1920, when six men who had been, were or would be president ran for the highest office.

Ex-president Theodore Roosevelt led the pack and was the favorite to get the Republican nomination. The very ill and very stubborn Woodrow Wilson wanted to run again to save his League of Nations. Also in the mix, eventual winner Warren G. Harding, his vice-president Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Teddy’s cousin Franklin Roosevelt.

May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Lively and fun read of the 1920 election. Lots of details on the conventions and the candidates. Good background on women's suffrage and African-American voting. However, if I had one complaint or comment, it is that the emphasis on personality completely overshadowed serious discussion on policy. For example, the debate of the Treaty of Versailles is reduced to a personal battle between President Woodrow Wilson and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge come off well in t ...more
J Bradley
Great drama. Well told. Helps puts 21st Century politics in perspective (today isn't so uniquely crazy). This book might have been even better if it didn't go into so much detail. Still, well done. Where's the movie?

One unique aspect was, at the beginning, a brief bio of the "characters" being written about in the book to help set the stage, then, at the end of the book, a review of what happened to them after 1920.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
  • American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
  • The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President⁠—and Why It Failed
  • Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
  • Wilson
  • The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth
  • 1917: Vladimir Lenin, Woodrow Wilson, and the Year that Created the Modern Age
  • Appaloosa (Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch, #1)
  • The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III
  • Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player
  • Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield
  • Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World
  • Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House
  • Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876
  • Shadow Strike: Inside Israel's Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power
  • Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington
  • Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the "Real America"
  • Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation
See similar books…
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


News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
55 likes · 9 comments
“Though there is no evil in righteousness, there is in self-righteousness,” 13 likes
“Author points out in Woodrow Wilson the flipside of the positive we might call big picture vision. He observes that as college president Wilson resorted to the language of a national crusade when he met resistance in a local, academic issue.” 3 likes
More quotes…