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Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency Paperback – 23 May 2017
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"Why did Herbert Hoover succeed at everything he did--except the presidency? Charles Rappleye provides a convincing answer in this solidly researched, persuasively argued account of Hoover's tortured four years in the White House. Dispelling the myths of a heartless or do-nothing president, Rappleye confirms his own subject's admonition, 'You can't make a Teddy Roosevelt out of me.' The book could not be more timely--the cautionary tale of a hugely accomplished anti-politician, it coincides with a presidential campaign in which inexperience is held up as a qualification for the most political of jobs. Highly recommended!"--Richard Norton Smith, author of An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover and On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller
"Contrary to myth, Hoover was no free marketeer and his activist program--especially the RFC and public works--anticipated the New Deal. But Hoover lacked FDR's elixir of leadership and he knew it. Rappleye's fresh and compelling story--wonderfully told--changes our understanding of the Depression and the possibilities of the presidency."--Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
"History accords little respect to Herbert Hoover, who is seen as a failed president overwhelmed by an economic cataclysm he couldn't manage. But Charles Rappleye delivers a trenchant and vivid narrative of Hoover's White House struggles that is notable also for the respect it shows its subject. Sprightly written with plenty of human insight, this book captures the drama of one of the hardest of America's hard times."--Robert W. Merry, author of Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians
"Rappleye portrays Hoover as an able administrator who prevented famines after the First World War and the 1927 Mississippi flood, but wanted to be President in 1928. He found himself between a rock (the Great Depression) and a hard place (his commitment to long-run plans for the American economy: balanced budgets and the gold standard). This engrossing book fills in a missing piece in the history of the Great Depression with a detailed narrative of Hoover's presidency."--Peter Temin, Elisha Gray II Professor Emeritus of Economics, MIT, and author (with David Vines) of Keynes: Useful Economics for the World Economy
"Rappleye fleshes out the standard picture of Hoover by using a greater array of primary sources - newspaper accounts, government documents, private diaries - than any previous account. . . . greater gravitas and psychological insight than any biography of a US president to appear so far this year. . . . detailed and gripping."--Christian Science Monitor
"Absorbing . . . an account of both Hoover's fall and Roosevelt's rise."--National Review
"Rappleye skillfully succeeds . . . Rappleye constructs a deft, filled-out portrait of the 31st president, one that captures as no one else has the political and economic snares that brought down Hoover's single term and ruined his reputation forever. . . . by far the best, most readable study of Hoover's presidency to date."--Publishers Weekly
"A fair-handed, surprisingly sympathetic new appraisal of the much-vilified president who was faced with the nation's plunge into the Great Depression. Reading Rappleye's engaging account of Herbert Hoover's (1874-1964) one-term presidency, readers may find themselves thinking that maybe the Depression wasn't really Hoover's fault after all. . . . Rappleye valiantly portrays all facets of this conflicted character . . . Concluding with the rise of Franklin Roosevelt, this study is finely focused and fills an important niche in presidential scholarship."--Kirkus Reviews
"Well-written and well-researched."--The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Charles Rappleye is an award-winning investigative journalist and editor. He has written extensively on media, law enforcement, and organized crime. The author of Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution; Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution; and Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency, he lives in Los Angeles.
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Despite these shortcomings, Rappleye does succeed in enlightening the reader about Hoover's motivations, his philosophy of government, and the personal weaknesses that prevented him from creating an atmosphere of optimism. That alone makes it an important read for those interested in understanding why he was a failed president.
The author confesses that he knew little about Hoover prior to his research for this book. Hoover was an orphan from Iowa who came from a Quaker background. His parents died young and he lived with various relatives. Hoover graduated in the first class at Stanford and became an internationallyf famous engineer. He amassed millions. He was wed Lou Hoover a fellow Standford graduate. They traveled the world on engineering jaunts. Hoover became famous for leading the American relief effort for the starving millions of Europe following the disaster of World War I. Hoover served as Secretary of Commerce on both the Harding and Coolidge admnistrations.
Hoover won a landslide victory over Democrat Al Smith in the 1928 election for president. He had never held elective office in his life! Hoover did try hard to stem the tide of the growing economic crisis. He worked with business and industrial leaders but unemployment grew to record numbers and the country sank deeper into the mire of misery. Hoover was defeated in 1932 by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt the greatest POTUS of the 20th century.
Herbert Hoover was a good man who was well intention but failed in office. He was aloof, taciturn, cold and could be rude. Though distant in personality he liked to be surrounded by friends. He had atrocious table manners! . He was an engineer trying to stop the runaway train of the Great
Depression but was himself derailed. The author has done a wonderfgul job on discussing and examining in detail the complex man that was Herbert Hoover. Excellent book well recommended.