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“At last, a biography of Herbert Hoover that captures the man in full… [Jeansonne] has splendidly illuminated the arc of one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century.”—David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of Freedom from Fear
Prizewinning 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 re-ignited by Ronald Reagan and which 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.
About the Author
Glen Jeansonne is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of several biographies, including The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928-1933 and Messiah of the Masses: Huey P. Long and the Great Depression. His book, Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate, won the Gustavus Myers Award and the Wisconsin Writers Award for the Best Non-Fiction Book.
“Herbert Hoover is usually ranked near the bottom of American presidents. Glen Jeansonne’s biography of the man who was chief executive from 1929 to 1933 is a cri de coeur over what the author sees as a grievous injustice. True, Hoover did preside over the worst economic catastrophe in our nation’s history. But in Herbert Hoover: A Life, he is a fascinating and accomplished individual—the ‘most versatile American since Benjamin Franklin’—and an idealistic, dynamic president who deserves a better reputation.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Jeansonne portrays a president more centrist than extreme, a leader who might have succeeded in a second term.... Strong—well-written and well-researched.”—Amity Shlaes, Wall Street Journal
“Historian Glen Jeansonne’s fine biography, the first to treat [Herbert Hoover’s] entire life…has given us an exhaustively researched, balanced, and thorough treatment of an American life very much worth knowing about.”—The American Spectator
“In Herbert Hoover: A Life…Glen Jeansonne has produced an elegant, concise, and insightful full-dress biography of the former president. It will likely remain the definitive single-volume account for some time.”—The Washington Free Beacon
“At last, a biography of Herbert Hoover that captures the man in full, from frontier orphan to accomplished engineer, acclaimed public servant, doomed President of the United States at the calamitous onset of the Great Depression, and principled but often curmudgeonly elder statesman in his twilight years. Glen Jeansonne’s account is often penetrating and unfailingly balanced—sympathetic but not sycophantic, critical when it needs to be, but never dismissive or contemptuous. He has splendidly illuminated the arc of one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century.”—David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945
“Glen Jeansonne shines a bright new spotlight on arguably America's most qualified, yet most misunderstood and vilified, president. Herbert Hoover's lifetime accomplishments are unbounded, his contributions to the nation and world invaluable. This is a timely biography, with lessons as relevant today as they were in 1929.”—Richard D. White, Jr., Author of Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long
“A new generation needs this single-volume account of Herbert Hoover's uncommon life. Glen Jeansonne tells the very American story of this Iowa orphan turned self-made international businessman, pioneer of global humanitarian relief and President of the United States. It is an epic life of a modest man who believed character was the architect of achievement.”—Margaret Hoover, Author of American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party
“For too long, there existed the need for an accessible one-volume biography of Herbert Hoover. Glen Jeansonne's Herbert Hoover: A Life admirably fills the void. Written with verve and wit, it is a satisfying portrait on many levels.”—Jerry Fleagle, Executive Director, Hoover Presidential Foundation
“President Herbert Hoover was a most remarkable American whom few truly know. Historian Glen Jeansonne reintroduces us to this fascinating, ill-understood man, and in the process rescues him and his amazing achievements from obscurity. If you could only read one biography this season, let it be this one.”—James W. Cortada, Author of All the Facts: A History of Information in the United States Since 1870
“Drawing deeply on Hoover’s archives and previous biographies, Jeansonne...energetically paints a colorful, revisionist portrait of America’s oft-maligned 31st president....Jeansonne’s detailed account presents a novel vision of Hoover and his place in American life.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jeansonne judiciously and luminously succeeds in making Hoover’s beliefs in efficiency, individualism, nationalism, volunteerism, and intervention overseas better known today, rescuing him from the erroneous image of an indifferent, static public figure.”—Library Journal
“Finally, a biography that captures [Hoover’s] life in full. . . . What Jeansonne's biography does most effectively is provide a window into Hoover's fine qualities as a human being, while at the same time highlighting how he became a classic example of the right man elected to high office at precisely the wrong time.”—Newsmax