wilsThis week’s book, Wilson by A. Scott Berg, is the perfect storm of books for me. First, it is a biography of one of the most enigmatic historical figures of the last century and it is written by an author whose other works I have greatly enjoyed.

So it was with much anticipation approached the biography of Woodrow Wilson by A. Scott Berg, and I was not disappointed. Woodrow Wilson’s administration in the early part of the 20th century bridged a time when our nation went from a relatively young republic still healing from the Civil War to become a dominant world power through the Great War, World War I.

A century after Wilson first took office, the story of his life, his time as a world leader and the legacy he left behind is as compelling as ever and well presented in the very capable hands of Mr. Berg.

About Wilson by A. Scott Berg: “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 twenty-eighth 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 visionary Princeton professor who constructed a model for higher education in America to the architect of the ill-fated League of Nations, from the devout Commander in Chief who ushered the country through its first great World War to the widower of intense passion and turbulence who wooed a second wife with hundreds of astonishing love letters, 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, from the trailblazer whose ideas paved the way for the New Deal and the Progressive administrations that followed to the politician whose partisan battles with his opponents left him a broken man, and ultimately, a tragic figure—this is 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 only thing I did not enjoy about this book was it took me all summer to read. At more than 800 pages (in the print version) I had to read it in fits and starts over the past couple of months. My efforts were rewarded with a well-researched and documented portrait of a much under examined leader whose time in office shaped the world we live in today.

Wilson by A. Scott Berg is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.