Jennie: Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr.

What better way to celebrate a holiday than a presidential review! Wait, you mean that isn’t your idea of a relaxing day off? Who am I kidding…you guys are WSR fans, of course you get it! :) (Also, you get that as a mom of littles I never really get a day off, right?!)

Anyway, this biography was huge, almost 600 pages of small text, but it was packed with information about things I never knew before. FDR is one of those presidents I’ve heard a lot about over the years, but as I flipped the pages in this book I discovered I had plenty to learn. From his opinions on women’s rights despite is own progressive daughters (one had a decent singing career!) to dating while in the White House (hello, Andrew Shepard!)

I found the chapters on WWI absolutely enthralling, I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes but the text brought me there and into Wilson’s head. Fascinating and horrifying at the same time! I lost a little respect for Wilson over civil rights, but gained some respect over WWI. His second wife and his political friends hiding the truth over his stroke was slightly awe-inspiring but also disgusting. Obviously, in this day of mass media and immediate coverage something like that couldn’t happen nowadays, but just the thought of the president not in a capacity to lead and the chain of command not occurring the way it’s supposed to…it just blew my mind.

This wasn’t my favorite biography so far in the challenge, but it’s pretty up there!

Jennie: William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft: In the Public Service by David Henry Burton

There aren’t many Taft biographies around, at least printed recently enough to not charge over $50 for. Although, there is one coming out later this year that I really wanted, but didn’t want to hold up my progress in the challenge.

This book was quite short, but it read dry for me which made even the thin number of pages feel long at times. However, I loved the pages about Taft’s time on the Supreme Court. I read those sections with great interest, as I did the portions discussing Taft and Teddy Roosevelt’s on-again-off-again friendship. I love me a good Adams/Jefferson drama, and Taft and TR didn’t disappoint.

I didn’t know much about Taft before reading this book, and feel slightly more informed now, though I’d love to read more about his personal life, especially more on his court days and his days overseas. This felt like a good introductory-type biography for me.