Charles Rappleye’s new biography of Herbert Hoover gave me a new perspective of both the 31st President of the United States and the economic depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s which paralyzed both the United States, Hoover himself, and his administration.
Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency (Simon and Schuster, 2016) is a telling tale of a man, highly regarded as a great humanitarian, who is unable to lead America out of the Great Depression for a variety of reasons. It is also a deeply personal study (fair and honest) of a man who did not, it seems, have the “tools of leadership” to do the job which needed to be done.
Using diaries and memoirs of the Hoover cabinet and advisors as key sources, Rappleye gets behind the stoic facade of Hoover and reveals a man who seethes with anger at his enemies, like another Quaker President, Richard Nixon. But it also reveals a man who grew up in poverty and understood what the county was going through but was unable to show that compassion as President. I enjoyed this book for its detailed account of the Hoover administration personalities as well as it being a study of American economic history as Hoover and his administration dealt with an increasingly deep and complex economic Great Depression which seemed resistant to Hoover’s policies.
Herber Hoover in the White House is a revealing portrait of a man who was a great humanitarian and engineer but who failed as President for a variety of reasons: his personal make-up which made him ill-suited for the Presidency; his conservative political viewpoint that resisted federal intervention for as long as possible; the overwhelming power and demands of the Presidency that seemed to paralyze him and his work as president; and a significant discussion of the complex economic issues and origins which lead to the Great Depression which have important lessons for today.
I enjoyed this biography for both a study of Hoover but also for its discussion into the complex factors which triggered the Great Depression I gave Herbert Hoover in the White House a five-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received a galley copy of this book from the Publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.