Wilson by A. Scott Berg
Unabridged, 32 hr. 29 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Jeremy Bobb (Narrator)
September 10, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Source: Received from Publisher for Review as Part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program
“One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson--the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently-discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details--even several unknown events--that fill in missing pieces of Wilson’s character and cast new light on his entire life.
From the scholar-President who ushered the country through its first great world war to the man of intense passion and turbulence , from the idealist determined to make the world “safe for democracy” to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity and the subterfuges around it were among the century’s greatest secrets, the result is an intimate portrait written with a particularly contemporary point of view – a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson’s life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon – but Wilson the man.”
The period of time in which Wilson was President is a time I was not all that familiar with and I knew even less about this President. Surprisingly I did know about his stroke while in office and how integral his wife, Edith, was at keeping his illness a secret. When I saw this title available for review, I knew that I had to take advantage to learn more about this remarkable man.
The book covered Wilson’s life from childhood through death, with intense focus on his time as President of Princeton and as President. Both of these periods were very interesting. I’m glad that the author spent ample time discussing his Princeton time period; it gave a precursor view of what he might be like as US president. The time he spent overseas while working on the peace to end WWI was fascinating and most interesting was seeing just what he was up against while trying to obtain a reasonable peace. As mentioned above, I knew that Wilson suffered a stroke while in office. His medical history was indeed discussed throughout the book creating a build-up of understanding that lead up to his stroke and the drama surrounding how that was handled while he was in office.
With regard to both of Wilson’s wives, I feel that Berg spent enough time introducing the reader to both of them and showing how they affected Wilson’s life/decisions. Ellen was his support structure in getting him through Princeton and into the White House, while Edith was his support in the White House and during his illness.
There was only one aspect that I found a little jarring while reading this book and that was the first chapter. This wasn’t titled as an introduction, it was titled Ascension, but it somewhat served as one. It jumped right in to a period where Wilson was President of the US and already married to his second wife. I found it confusing as to where we were or placing it chronologically. The second chapter however begins back with the early life of Wilson – so in essence I just forgot about the first chapter and moved on. It would have been better titled as an introduction or without the chapter all together.
Overall this book certainly covers all the necessary aspects to get an excellent understanding of Woodrow Wilson as both a man and the President. Are there areas that could be explored further? Yes; but for the average person who wants to understand that time period and this President, I think it served its purpose.
The narrator of this book did an admirable job narrating this non-fiction work. I find that non-fiction can be a very tough book type to turn into an audiobook production. While he didn’t need to voice different characters, he still kept the book flowing without causing the reader to fall asleep.
Author A. Scott Berg also has written Kate Remembered, Lindbergh, Goldwyn, and Max Perkins. You can visit Berg’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
Berg’s website also includes some great additional reference material such as timelines, audio clips of speeches, and photos.
You can watch this video clip of the author, A. Scott Berg, speaking about his book:
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