Hoover : An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
by Kenneth Whyte

Overview - " An exemplary biography--exhaustively researched, fair-minded and easy to read. It can nestle on the same shelf as David McCullough's Truman , a high compliment indeed." -- The Wall Street Journal

The definitive biography of Herbert Hoover, one of the most remarkable Americans of the twentieth century-- a wholly original account that will forever change the way Americans understand the man, his presidency, his battle against the Great Depression, and their own history.

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More About Hoover by Kenneth Whyte
"An exemplary biography--exhaustively researched, fair-minded and easy to read. It can nestle on the same shelf as David McCullough's Truman, a high compliment indeed." --The Wall Street Journal

The definitive biography of Herbert Hoover, one of the most remarkable Americans of the twentieth century--a wholly original account that will forever change the way Americans understand the man, his presidency, his battle against the Great Depression, and their own history.

An impoverished orphan who built a fortune. A great humanitarian. A president elected in a landslide and then resoundingly defeated four years later. Arguably the father of both New Deal liberalism and modern conservatism, Herbert Hoover lived one of the most extraordinary American lives of the twentieth century. Yet however astonishing, his accomplishments are often eclipsed by the perception that Hoover was inept and heartless in the face of the Great Depression.

Now, Kenneth Whyte vividly recreates Hoover's rich and dramatic life in all its complex glory. He follows Hoover through his Iowa boyhood, his cutthroat business career, his brilliant rescue of millions of lives during World War I and the 1927 Mississippi floods, his misconstrued presidency, his defeat at the hands of a ruthless Franklin Roosevelt, his devastating years in the political wilderness, his return to grace as Truman's emissary to help European refugees after World War II, and his final vindication in the days of Kennedy's "New Frontier." Ultimately, Whyte brings to light Hoover's complexities and contradictions--his modesty and ambition, his ruthlessness and extreme generosity--as well as his profound political legacy.

Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
is the epic, poignant story of the deprived boy who, through force of will, made himself the most accomplished figure in the land, and who experienced a range of achievements and failures unmatched by any American of his, or perhaps any, era. Here, for the first time, is the definitive biography that fully captures the colossal scale of Hoover's momentous life and volatile times.

  • ISBN-13: 9780307597960
  • ISBN-10: 0307597962
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: October 2017
  • Page Count: 752
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.75 x 1.75 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.48 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Presidents & Heads of State
Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical

BookPage Reviews

America’s fascinating past and present

How has the United States changed over the past 250 years, and how has it remained the same? Here are five gift ideas for readers with a serious interest in where we’ve come from, how we got this far and just how far we have left to go.

The word “frenemies” wasn’t around during the founding of the United States, but it could certainly be applied to the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, which is detailed by Gordon S. Wood in Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The acerbic Adams and the idealistic Jefferson were divided by geography and social standing in addition to temperament. Yet they forged a friendship in the early days of the nation before later falling out over issues large and small as the years rolled by and both served presidential terms. The rift was healed with the help of a mutual friend in their later years, providing a heartwarming ending to the intertwined biographies of two men who famously both died on the Fourth of July, 1826. Their differences remained to the end, but as Wood shows—with the help of the numerous letters between the pair that survive—the combatants’ jousting took on a mutually respectful tone. A 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Wood is a skillful guide to Revolutionary-era principles, both profound and personal.

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If anyone ever appeared to be eminently qualified to be president of the United States, it was Herbert Hoover. A self-made millionaire largely untainted by politics, Hoover had a long history of rolling up his sleeves and getting important work done when he was elected to the job in 1928. So how did things go off the rails, ending with his defeat by Franklin Delano Roosevelt four years later? Kenneth Whyte tackles that question and more in Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. While no apologist for the man who became synonymous with the Great Depression, Whyte details how Hoover was up against worldwide economic forces that he had no way of controlling and points out that the hard times continued long into Roosevelt’s presidency. Just as interesting, however, are Whyte’s accounts of Hoover’s early life, from his rise from orphanhood to world-traveling problem solver, and his post-presidency attempt to restore his image and regain his place among the 20th century’s most admired people.

Another Ken Burns PBS series? Delightful! And with the series comes the companion book, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History, by Burns and historian Geoffrey C. Ward. Burns’ style has proven irresistible over the years: It’s straight history inter­spersed with personal vignettes and peppered with photographs. The iconic images from the war are here, of course, but look for the lesser-known shots, such as President Lyndon B. Johnson watching television coverage of the war in bed with his wife, Lady Bird, or an overhead shot of the famed Ho Chi Minh Trail, which continued to be used despite multiple American airstrikes. Still, the personal stories—from all sides—will grab the reader most tightly, as individual soldiers are followed from enlistment to, in one case, the day an obituary appears in a hometown newspaper.

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This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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