The presidency of Calvin Coolidge
Robert Ferrell offers the first book-length account of the Coolidge presidency in thirty years, drawing on the recently opened papers of White House physician Joel T. Boone to provide a more personal appraisal of the thirtieth president than has previously been possible. Ferrell shows Coolidge to have been a hard-working, sensitive individual who was a canny politician and an astute judge of people. Drawing on the most recent literature on the Coolidge era, Ferrell has constructed a meticulous and highly readable account of the president's domestic and foreign policy. His book illuminates this pre-Depression administration for historians and reveals to general readers a president who was stern in temperament and dedicated to public service.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Robert Farrell's contribution to the excellent "Presidency" series of the University Press of Kansas offers a clear-eyed but sympathetic portrait of the thirtieth president. Coolidge today is remembered only as "Silent Cal" (if he is remembered at all), the Vermont stoic who presided over the nation from 1923 (on the death of Harding) to 1929. Farrell brings him back to life, and demonstrates that he was a man of greater depth and abilities than he is usually given credit for. But the fact remains that he was a champion of small government (the Tea Party is bound to discover him any day now) and his executive style was much like Eisenhower's - appoint a capable cabinet and leave day-to-day management of public affairs to them, intervening only when necessary. Fortunately for Coolidge (and the nation), most of his term in office coincided with a long period of peace and prosperity, and there appeared little need for a strong executive. On the other hand, however, his final two full years as president (1927-1928) witnessed runaway growth in the stock market and a massive expansion of speculative investment (otherwise known as a bubble) that ended with a loud crash in October 1929, after Coolidge had left office. In retrospect he was criticized for being asleep at the wheel while the American economy ran off the tracks into severe and prolonged depression. Farrell concludes that "the economy was the greatest problem of the moment, and Coolidge understood it less than some of his contemporaries. If he failed in the presidency, this was his major failure...Somehow, one wishes that during the last presidential year or two, the bright, hardworking, slightly cynical, simple (in the right sense of that adjective) man in the White House had fixed his mind on the nation's fragile economy. One wishes that he had gathered the best minds...and asked them what to do, and then, although the task would have been difficult, sought to do it." It's easy to share Farrell's wish, which was written in 1998, but in light of the economic crisis that befell the nation in 2008, it's difficult to blame Coolidge, who lived in an era of limited economic data and minimal government regulation, for failing to recognize and respond to the same kind of irrational exuberance that George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan recognized but ignored.
Review: The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (The American Presidency Series)User Review - Don Incognito - Goodreads
This is the first biography I read of President Coolidge. It is very dry and academic in style, but I didn't mind. I now believe that if any twentieth-century American president could be called a good ... Read full review