Thursday, July 29, 2010

1912, by James Chace

Some historical periods have me at "hello." Anything covered by Alison Weir is one. America from 1892 to 1920 is another. If there is a reasonably written book covering that era, I'll want to read it. Some of that is my interest in the policies, some of it is my interest in the personalities. I have a man-crush on William Howard Taft that I can't quit. The Taft-Roosevelt dynamic in 1912 is fascinating to me. I always feel incredibly sad when I read about Taft campaigning against Roosevelt and then confiding to a reporter, "Roosevelt was my closest friend."

From this book I gather that Chace is a big proponent of Eugene Debs's place in history. Sometimes it feels like he is over-stating his case. Sure, Debs was a candidate with nationwide appeal, but he was never a serious contender for the presidency. He ran far behind Taft, who was a distant third as it was.

I had never read much about Woodrow Wilson or Debs before, so those parts of this book were intriguing. The messianic campaign of Roosevelt was interesting. The serious character flaws of Wilson were fascinating.

Rating: six out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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