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William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative Hardcover – 14 Nov 2011


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Review

“This lucid, fascinating, and beautifully written account invites us to reconsider the place in history of William Howard Taft. Professor Lurie covers Taft’s career up to the point when he achieved his life's goal: the Supreme Court. The book is a superb achievement―a major study of an important and often misunderstood figure in American political and legal history.” ―Lawrence M. Friedman, Stanford Law School

“This well-written and engaging account of Taft’s relationship with Theodore Roosevelt and his career up to 1921 (the first volume, of a planed two-volume study of Taft) constitutes a significant revision of the literature. Lurie demonstrates that Taft was, as he claimed to be, an important ‘progressive conservative’ who achieved and protected more ‘progressive’ measures than had Roosevelt, while simultaneously defending the Supreme Court’s role and authority. A tour de force.” ―Peter Karsten, University of Pittsburgh

“In this pithy and engaging study of William Howard Taft’s political career, Jonathan Lurie argues convincingly that Taft was more progressive than previous historians have recognized and that Taft accurately characterized himself as a progressive conservative. Lurie demonstrates that Taft’s vision of a vigorous federal role in promoting the public interest inspired his progressive policies on tariff reform, conservation of natural resources, labor, federal administration, and antitrust enforcement. By explaining why Taft’s presidency was much more than a mere interlude between the progressive presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Lurie’s superb book should kindle greater appreciation for Taft among historians and general readers alike.” ―William G. Ross, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University

“For too many years, William Howard Taft’s one term as president has been dismissed, along with him, as a failure, overshadowed by the two men who came before and after him. Jonathan Lurie’s lucid re-examination of Taft’s presidency will give everyone pause for thought, and historians will have to take another look at the Taft White House in terms of Taft’s own description of himself as a ‘progressive conservative.’ A very well done book.” ―Melvin I. Urofsky, Virginia Commonwealth University

"This insightful book by a significan scholar will certainly provide scholars of the US presidency with a very valuable source. Essential." -Choice

"Lurie has written extensively and authoritatively on legal, military, and constitutional subjects.  With Taft he has chosen a biographee very suited to his own talents." -Walter Nugent, The Journal of American History

"...a fine work of scholarship." -Ryan P. Williams, Claremont Review of Books

Book Description

This book sheds light on William Howard Taft. There is currently no available biographical study in print, and the book looks at the Taft–Theodore Roosevelt relationship in a new light. Finally, it places Taft in a progressive context, probably the first study to do so.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x928f7fc0) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92904dec) out of 5 stars Well-balanced study of Taft. Good, not great. 8 Oct. 2014
By EricT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think it is a good book, but it is good, not great. It reads a little like a college research paper with really long footnotes that might have been better if included in the text rather than having to hunt for the reference. Speaking of references, other notes that refer to illustrations seem to have no connection to the surrounding text. The illustrations just don't fit into the story at any given point. The book does cover Taft's life fairly quickly and succinctly and moves along at a good pace if you aren't looking for a full, more thorough, biography. It does seem well researched and provides a very fair presentation of the character and demeanor of the man. It does not paint any false image of Taft, but seems truthful in all facts. Overall, a well-balanced study.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92a45a74) out of 5 stars Quick Taft 9 Jun. 2013
By Lawrence A. Feldman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This Taft bio is very interesting and focuses on Taft's political and judicial philosophies. It is very concise and has stimulated me to read more about one of our two presidents who had a signifcant political life after the presidency.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92a45978) out of 5 stars Well Researched 22 Mar. 2015
By Grace Dozier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's hard to find an analysis of the Taft presidency. This short work does a good job of highlighting the most important aspects of his time in office.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x932e5cf0) out of 5 stars It was an enjoyable read. Helpful in understanding the ... 19 Nov. 2014
By Steve Conrady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was an enjoyable read. Helpful in understanding the term progressive conservative.
HASH(0x93d24828) out of 5 stars Not only a conservative President. 17 May 2015
By robert yoder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lurie's book opens up the assumed position that Taft was a conservative. He notes that while he was a conservative in many ways and wanted to act in strict accordance with the constitution, he had a benevolent and progressive outlook as well. Our outlook is slanted by that of Theodore Roosevelt who believed his protégé had abandoned his progressive agenda and came to be his enemy. Roosevelt, colored by his emotions and his belief that firing anyone he had appointed was treason to the progressive cause. The book was quite informative.
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