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The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  135 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Hardcover, 691 pages
Published January 1st 1968 by McGraw-Hill
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May 07, 2013 rated it liked it

“The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times” is Francis Russell’s 1968 biography of the 29th president. The book is probably best known for controversy generated prior to its publication resulting from Russell’s discovery of a cache of letters between Harding and one of his mistresses.

The author intended to include excerpts from the letters in the biography but a lawsuit by the Harding family suppressed their disclosure. The reader, howev
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
In drama, tragedy is defined as the fall of a great man through deliberate or inadvertent mechanizations of his own creation, with an emphasis on the adjective "great." In this sense, Warren G. Harding's story is not a tragedy, as he was never a great man. Nonetheless, "tragic" is a word I will always associate with him after reading this splendid biography by Francis Russell. Harding spent most of his life mildly ambitious but content to go along to get along, to stand for election without stan ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: presidents
The United States 19th President, Warren Harding, started his life in the community of Blooming Grove, Ohio. His father provided a middle class upbringing for Warren and his seven brothers and sisters working as the town’s doctor and also as a farmer. Warren’s mother worked as a midwife. The family moved to Caledonia, OH where Warren’s father bought a newspaper company. Warren started working there at the age of 10. He learned all the details pertaining to the newspaper industry. At age 17 he a ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Perhaps Warren G. Harding wasn’t such a bad president after all. The Shadow of Blooming Grove , written several years ago, is a wonderful biography of the man who added the word “normalcy” to the English language and fathered a child in a closet of the White House. Harding has traditionally been considered one of the worst presidents. The “Teapot Dome Scandal,” “smoke-filled rooms” where deals were cut, and the “Ohio Gang” of politicians that placed personal gain over the country’s welfare have ...more
Aaron Million
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Biography of one of America's lowest-ranked Presidents. That will probably not change much regardless of who comes into office in the future. Harding was not a mean or necessarily corrupt man, although he did have multiple affairs - including one with a 19 year-old girl whom he impregnated when he was already in his 50s. But many of his friends were, and he basically turned the other cheek to their activities and refused to believe it when hints of wrongdoing came his way. He did not want to be ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: us-politics
Weighing in at 663 pages of biographical prose, Francis Russell's biography of Warren G. Harding is an example of a book that could have used an editor to cut out about half of the dull information presented herein.

In my attempt to read biographies of all US Presidents, I usually chose a single book of 500+ pages chronicling the life of each president in order to get an extended picture of their life and impact upon the United States. This book however, which at times was so incredibly boring an
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thorough and fascinating look at a presidency marked by scandal. At the time the book was written, the president's estate sued to have many of the love letters redacted; however, now many of them can be found online, making the book an even more interesting read.

If you're looking for a great biography of Harding & politics from the Gilded Era to the early 1920s - I'd highly recommend this one!
Christopher Richardson
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There are so many gems in this book, I don't even know where to begin. First, the book itself is quite controversial because in the 1960s, because of a legal dispute between the author and Harding's family. Harding's mistress (Carrie Phillips) gave the author all her love letters written by Harding before she died. The author attempted to publish the love letters in the book but was blocked in court by Harding's nephew. The book details how the Ohio Historical Society fought tooth and nail to ac ...more
Kristi Thielen
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
In 1920, with the larger-then-life Theodore Roosevelt out of the political picture and no stellar standard bearers to turn to, the GOP nominated Warren G. Harding as their presidential candidate because, as one convention delegate noted, "Harding is the best of the second raters."

And that's how a man who never wanted to be president and knew he lacked the intellectual tools for the job came to the White House. He was mostly miserable there and when he died in office his star was waning. But the
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Yup, kids, that's right! A five-starrer!

Although I'm not actually sure that I would get along with author Francis Russell in real life -- you know, if he were alive -- I found this book to be one of the most interesting in this lovely little prez bios project I'm doing (have I told you about it??!? ;) oh, I have? 28 times already?) and parts of it were downright gripping. The dust jacket calls his description of the 1920 Repub convention the "most absorbing account ever" of that "smoke-filled r
Tom Rowe
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a slog. Not that it was uninteresting. It would grab me in fits and starts, and then it would overwhelm me with it's length and detail. Harding was an interesting man. He seemed to be an epicurean who was constantly looking for pleasure, happiness, and accolades but who would find himself in over his head. He seems to have been a very charismatic man. The book was a pretty comprehensive biography. It even goes a bit meta in the last chapter as the author discusses the discovery of ...more
Jan (the Gryphon)
This biography of Warren G. Harding went back to his great-great-grandfather to explain the continuing scandal that plagued his family even after Warren G. Harding's death. There were unsubstantiated rumors that Harding had African-American ancestry and also that Florence Kling Harding, his wife, had murdered him by poison.

Harding apparently spent more time making time with ladies other than his wife than paying attention to what his cronies and cabinet members were doing.

Oddly, there were no ph
Kristie Helms
Jan 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Just really horribly written and disappointing. Going into the Trump administration, I thought it might be helpful to learn more about the man rated by many as the worst US president of all time.

This book was so densely written -- and wandering with facts about a mistress tucked into a paragraph about a Congressional proposal -- that it was impossible to really read.

I've marked this one as "read" though it was really more "skimmed and skipped".

Curt Blair
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Harding was not the greatest President we ever had; many say he was the worst. He was one of the least likely and least suited. Perhaps because of the nature of the man as well as the narrative, I have given it a 3. The book is dry and sometimes difficult to wade through. It is one of the few indebth discussions of this limited statesman. Worth the effort but not much more.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good biography on someone who should never have been President. The only dodgy element is that Russell couldn't directly quote some love letters written by Harding to his mistress, so he included them as dashes (----- --- -----). Aside from that, a very good presidential biography.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Quite long, considering Harding was only president for a couple of years, but I was quickly drawn in. Between his romantic life, family life, and the politics of how he ended up president without really aspiring to it, I found Harding to be a fascinating figure.
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A colorful biography of a largely forgotten president and, more importantly, an interesting peek into the mindset of American life and politics during the interregnum between the end of World War I and the true beginning of the roaring '20s.
Mitchell Kaufman
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a landmark biography, still one of the finest biographies I have ever read...twice.
Michael Nelson
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Every reader of U.S. Presidential history must at some point subject themselves to a tome on Warren Harding at some point. This one was pretty good.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
The best book that I ever fished out of the garbage.
Isabelle  E Jarrott
rated it it was amazing
Dec 03, 2017
Jeremy Maddux
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Sep 19, 2017
Yolanda M. Babcock
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Feb 04, 2017
Janet Potter
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Jan 19, 2016
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Feb 16, 2014
Marc Greenstein
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Mar 20, 2015
Chris Curtis
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Aug 17, 2014
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Dec 14, 2013
David Gussak
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Oct 02, 2013
Thomas Smith
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Nov 05, 2015
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Francis Russell was an American author specializing in American history and historical figures.
More about Francis Russell...