Written as he indicates in the acknowledgements “to the accompaniment of a million-dollar lawsuit” because of his involvement in the discovery of the Carrie Phillips letters, one of Harding’s mistress’, Russell traces the history of the Hardings and their tumultuous life.
Well researched, Russell paints a fairly sympathetic picture of Harding and reveals a man, passionate with women, at odds in a strained marriage, and yet one who like to get along with everyone. And that getting along ability was one, I think, that he was nominated and elected President in 1920.
Though this book was published in 1968 (and under court order Russell had to leave out the excerpts of letters between Phillips and Harding) it provides a detail glimpse into the personality of not just Harding but those who served in his cabinet and administration. And some of the dynamics and factors of politics are strangely a part of today’s discussion about the same issues.
I think that Russell did a wonderful job of bringing out the high points (such as a pointed addressed about the rights of African-Americans to an audience in Birmingham, Alabama) and the low points (such as his hesitation to dismiss corrupt members of his cabinet in a timely and forthright way.)
This book is a good, and controversial, introduction to the life of a President who perhaps is the least known and one of the lower “ranked” Presidents.