Robert Sobel Coolidge: An American Enigma

ISBN 13: 9780895264107

Coolidge: An American Enigma

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9780895264107: Coolidge: An American Enigma
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The most successful and neglected president of the 20th century.

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About the Author:

Robert Sobel, journalist, author, and professor of Business History at Hofstra University, has written more than thirty books, including Herbert Hoover at the Onset of the Great Depression and The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920s. He lives in Long Beach, New York.

From Kirkus Reviews:

If Coolidge were alive, he would see no reason to say this much about himself. Sobel (Dangerous Dreamers, 1993, etc.) is a man on a mission. He considers the conventional wisdom on Calvin Coolidgethat he was a naive simpleton manipulated by political bosses, servant of business and the rich, a do-nothing president whose inactivity set the stage for the Depression--unfair trivialization that reflects the failure of American historians to take Coolidge seriously. His revisionist effort confronts two problems, however. First, Coolidge had his personal papers destroyed, leaving very little documentary basis on which to write a biography. Sobel notes that ``Coolidge . . . kept his cards close to his vest, and we know little about what he knew or thought.'' Nevertheless, a lack of evidence doesnt deter Sobel, who relies extensively on the ex-president's slim autobiography and his own ability to make confident assertions when confronted with matters requiring interpretation. Second, the contemporaneous put-downs of Coolidge are not only much more colorful and memorable than anything that can be extracted from ``silent Cal,'' they are compelling as well. This imposes a need for heavy mental gymnastics if Sobel is to support his thesis. Consider a statement by Walter Lippmann quoted by Sobel in response to the charge that Coolidge slept away his time in the White House: ``Inactivity is a political philosophy and a party program with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for a soft and easy desire to let things slide.'' Sobel sidesteps the sarcasm, concluding that ``This is quite different from sleeping away five years in office.'' Resting one's case on a distinction between doing nothing for lack of a purpose and doing nothing on purpose illustrates the daunting nature of Sobel's task, as well as raising concerns about why he is actually pursuing it. Most readers will find it difficult to stifle a yawn. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780895262479: Coolidge, An American Enigma

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ISBN 10:  0895262479 ISBN 13:  9780895262479
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9781621574071: Coolidge: An American Enigma (The Presidents)

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