Woodrow Wilson: A Penguin Life

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Viking Penguin, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 128 pages
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This new biography of our 28th president is pithy and intelligent; it is also hurried. As with other titles in the Penguin Lives series, the match up of author and subject is inspired. Auchincloss, the highbrow novelist and biographer of such bluebloods as Edith Wharton and Henry James, is perfectly suited to chronicle the exploits of the most academic and idealistic man ever to have lived in the White House. In 18 breathless pages, Auchincloss covers Wilson's life from birth to his first executive office -- president of Princeton University. It was at Princeton that Wilson caught the eye of Democratic Party bosses, who saw in the bookish professor a man they believed they could manipulate. They were wrong. As a political candidate, Wilson proved to be fiercely independent as well as a master orator. His commanding presence got him elected governor of New Jersey and then, after a fortuitous split in the Republican Party, president of the U.S. Auchincloss does a fine job of detailing the successes and failures of the Wilson administration. His only real misstep is a crude resort to pop psychology; Auchincloss invents something very close to a split personality for the president and makes constant reference throughout to the "two Woodrow Wilsons". That is only a minor flaw, however, in what is otherwise an engaging, informative introduction to one of our greatest leaders.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Fleet narrative and clear-eyed psychology put our 28th president's flawed administration (1913-21) into personal and global perspective. A veteran man of letters, Auchincloss (Collected Stories, 1994 ... Read full review

Woodrow Wilson

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The "Penguin Lives" series matches its subjects with eminent writers whose short biographies are meant to be read in a sitting or two. Larry McMurtry's Crazy Horse (LJ 11/15/98) opened the series, and ... Read full review


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About the author (2000)

Louis Auchincloss was born on September 27, 1917 in New York. He attended Groton College and Yale University and received a law degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War ll. A practicing attorney, Auchincloss wrote his first novel, "The Indifferent Children," in 1947 under the pseudonym Andrew Lee, establishing a dual career as a successful lawyer and writer. Born into a socially prominent family, Auchincloss generally writes about society's upper class. Strong family connections, well-bred manners, and corporate boardrooms are subject matter in such novels as "Portrait in Brownstone" and "I Come As a Thief." He has also written several biographical and critical works on such notable writers as Edith Wharton and Henry James. Auchincloss was President of the Museum of the City of New York.

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