Wilson, by A Scott Berg, Simon & Schuster, RRP£30 / $40, 832 pages
Review by Duncan Kelly (F. Times Dec 13, 2013 6:55 pm)
One hundred years ago this month, just a couple of days before Christmas, President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) signed into law the Federal Reserve Act and laid the foundations of the modern American banking system. It was among the first of a momentous series of legislative reforms that Wilson pushed through with a missionary zeal befitting his mixture of idealism and progressivism. He felt his life and work determined by an “over-ruling Providence”.
A child of Scots-Irish Presbyterians and the American South, Wilson found his first calling as a scholar of American history and politics. He gained jobs and book contracts with ease, and his rise was little short of meteoric. In 1890, he took a junior professorship at Princeton; only 12 years later he became the university’s visionary, reforming president. From there, he would stand successfully for the governorship of New Jersey in 1910, which in turn gave him the national profile to secure the nomination as the Democratic candidate for president in the 1912 election…more