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Prize-winning historian Glen Jeansonne delves into the life of our most misunderstood president, offering up a surprising new portrait of Herbert Hoover - dismissing previous assumptions and revealing a political Progressive in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt and the most resourceful American since Benjamin Franklin.
Orphaned at an early age and raised with strict Quaker values, Hoover earned his way through Stanford University. His hardworking ethic drove him to a successful career as an engineer and multinational businessman. After the Great War, he led a humanitarian effort that fed millions of Europeans left destitute, arguably saving more lives than any man in history. As commerce secretary under President Coolidge, Hoover helped modernize and galvanize American industry and orchestrated the rehabilitation of the Mississippi Valley after the Great Flood of 1927.
As president, Herbert Hoover became the first chief executive to harness federal power to combat a crippling global recession. Though Hoover is often remembered as a "do-nothing" president, Jeansonne convincingly portrays a steadfast leader who challenged Congress on an array of legislation that laid the groundwork for the New Deal. In addition Hoover reformed America's prisons, improved worker safety, and fought for better health and welfare for children. Unfairly attacked by Franklin D. Roosevelt and blamed for the Depression, Hoover was swept out of office in a landslide. Yet as FDR's government grew into a bureaucratic behemoth, Hoover became the moral voice of the GOP and a champion of Republican principles - a legacy reignited by Ronald Reagan and that still endures today.
A compelling and rich examination of his character, accomplishments, and failings, this is the magnificent biography of Herbert Hoover we have long waited for.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 10-26-16
After working in the Palo Alto area around Stanford University, I thought I knew about Hoover. There are more buildings named for Herbert Hoover in the area than any place else. This is Hoover country. But After reading Jeansonne’s new book on Hoover, I realized I knew very little about this most interesting man.
Professor Jeansonne dismisses previous assumptions about Hoover and reveals a political progressive in the mold of his fellow Republican, Theodore Roosevelt. I acquired some great trivia information from the book. Did you know that Herbert Hoover saved more lives than any man in history? In WWI and WWII, he was responsible for feeding and providing medical care to all the refugees from the Wars. He saved 1.3 million Russians from starvation in spite of the actions of Stalin. It was Hoover that had the first telephone placed on the President’s desk in the oval office. Hoover made a fortune as an engineer and businessman. He was a gifted administrator, organizer and a brilliant logistics expert.
Hoover was labeled the “Do-nothing” President but Jeansonne proves that wrong. Hoover had a dysfunctional and divided congress but Hoover did manage to get some legislation through that laid the groundwork for the “New Deal”. In Hoover’s first eight months in office he reformed the prisons, improved worker’s safety and fought for health and welfare for children. He also had reduced the federal government to its smallest size in years and was reducing the military.
The book is well written, meticulously researched and an insightful evaluation of a misunderstood and forgotten president. I felt the author repeated himself too often, which I found annoying. The author attempts to correct the distorted image of Herbert Hoover. Jeansonne provides an impressive and provocative evaluation of Hoover. In my opinion, Jeansonne attempts to balance his evaluation of Hoover. He points out his failures as well as his achievements. It is apparent that the author is attempting to correct an image, but I do not feel he crossed the line into a hagiographic biography. The book is fairly long at about seventeen hours.
Jeansonne is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin.
Mark Deakins does an excellent job narrating the book. Deakins is an actor and multi-award winning audiobook narrator.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
By Neil Wagoner on 01-16-17
Very good with a couple reservations
This was an excellent biography. However there were times it was repetitious, and while he tried to be fair, author's political bias occasionally became distracting especially in any parts dealing with FDR and The New Deal.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful