Review of the Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge.
Image via Wikipedia

Like the apocryphal story of a two word conversation with the poet and satirist Dorothy Parker (who thought she could get more than two words out of him), Calvin Coolidge’s autobiography, published in 1929, is brief. The 30th President of the United States, Coolidge assumed office after the death of the 29th President, Warren Harding.

In this volume of fewer than 300 pages, Coolidge simply sketches his childhood and the values he learned from his rural Vermont upbringing; then to his time at boarding school and onto Amherst College; his choice of law as a profession and his subsequent rise up through the ranks of public service; and the rise to the Presidency.

I believe that Coolidge could have been an introvert (hence his reputation as a person of few words.) And this tendency would color his choice of words and what he chose to write.

I believe that reading a Presidential autobiography is valuable experience in understanding the men who occupied that office. I have read Grant’s and Clinton’s and both are substantially larger and more detailed works than Coolidge’s. But to hear Coolidge in his own words leads the reader toward a more valuable understanding of him.

I did enjoy reading this book and believe that our 30th President was a humble man.

And since he had the distinction of being the first President to be recorded on “talking pictures” I refer the reader of this review to this link at archive.org http://www.archive.org/details/coolidge_1924 as well as a link to the autobiography at the same site here http://www.archive.org/details/autobiographyofc011710mbp

There are other resources on him as well.

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2 thoughts on “Review of the Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Calvin Coolidge’s autobiography. On the aspect of its literary qualities, I submit it is a gem that doesn’t dazzle by quantity but rather by quality and I agree that the reader gains a deeper understanding of the man Coolidge. I also agree with your conclusion that he was a humble man, aware of both his own limitations as well as strengths, aware of the limits placed on his office by the constitution and, ultimately, aware of his relative significance (or lack thereof) in the grand scheme of things.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful review.
    The 1929 Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge is the main source for my solo performance Calvin Coolidge: More Than Two words. It was Dorothy Parker how replied, “How can they tell?” when told that Coolidge was dead. Many sources attribute the “more than two words” quote to her but I tend to think that it was the wife of the Senator from Nebraska.
    Grant’s Memoirs and Coolidge’s autobiography are regarded as the two “best written” post-presidential memoirs. I tend to favor my man Coolidge as Grant had Mark Twain for editor.
    That is a great photo of Harding you feature. You can see why so many women found him so attractive. Some years ago I performed at the LBJ Library in Austin, TX. There was a lady in the audience who had met both Harding and Coolidge. She said, “Warren Harding was the handsomest man I ever met.” There’s a new book out by Dr. Robert H. Ferrell – The Strange Deaths of President Harding. It is well worth your attention.

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