Thursday, September 30, 2010

William Howard Taft, by Judith Icke Anderson

I was hankering for a Taft biography, and this was all my local library had. I didn't enjoy it that much. The "psychological" aspect of it was probably very trendy in the 1970s, but now it just seems silly and dated. I enjoyed the overview of Taft's life, but not the "his wife was a mother figure to him" or the "he overate to rebel" aspects of it. Unless Anderson found a journal entry where Taft admits as much, it's just a guess that we can't even run past him for his take.

I had a hard time accepting her assessment for how Taft came into his own in the White House. After an entire life of listening to his mother and wife, Anderson says he just sort of didn't need to anymore, so he stopped. And the only really fascinating psychological decision of his life, fighting his "father figure" for a position he clearly did not want, is sort of ignored. Why would Taft rebel so spectacularly for something he hated so much? Anderson doesn't really bother to ask, let alone find out.

I have to admit, I was also turned off by Anderson's dedication of her work to Fawn Brodie, whose "scholarship" in No Man Knows My History is decidedly substandard. If that's Anderson's idea of a good job, how much stock should I place in her book?

Rating: two and a half giant inflatable monkeys.

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