This book is very readable compared to many history, political science, or political philosophy books that use extensive circumlocutions and statement qualifications that lead to rambling subordinate clauses and extensive information notes. Clements writes clearly and concisely. It appears to be factually accurate. Extensive endnotes are provided for each chapter that appear to justify Clements’ contentions well. Clements uses both primary sources such as the public papers of Wilson and the books Wilson wrote.
A wide variety of secondary sources were used that appear to cover the gamut of topics dealt with in the book. A “Bibliographic Essay” which is really an annotated bibliography is included. The Bibliographic Essay is noteworthy and useful. The one fault is the lack of any accompanying conventional, alphabetically arranged, bibliography. Consequently, if one finds a reference in the notes and wants to find out more about the source, one must search through the Bibliographic Essay that is arranged by topic instead of alphabetically by author or title.
Adding this feature would provide a useful improvement. Clements provides a timeline of both Wilson’s private and public political life as well as national and international events that is useful particularly for someone without a strong background in twentieth century United States history. A variety of illustrations appear near the middle of the book including the usual family pictures and public appearances as President. In addition a few of the political cartoons of the day add something to understanding the times politically.
Kendrick A. Clements is a “Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus” at the University of South Carolina. He took both a masters and a PhD in history from the University of California at Berkeley. He taught in a variety of areas of United States history and researched in American diplomatic history and United States history during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Clements has written a number of books including books about Wilson, Herbert Hoover, and William Jennings Bryan.
Clements has written a respectable number of articles for scholarly journals such as Presidential Studies Quarterly, American Historical Review, and Diplomatic History (Clements 2007). I was unable to find any peer reviews within the specified time for Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman, but I found several later historians and sources that referred to the book in their own writing and seemed to do so positively; Gaughan, Felzenberg, and a bibliography published by The Mississippi Quarterly are examples.
In addition a glance through some of Clements articles indicates that Clements’ writings are based on good scholarship and extensive research. Obviously Clements has devoted a good portion of his scholarly career in researching and writing about Woodrow Wilson. It is clear from his writing that he admires Wilson greatly, but Clements is no sycophant, fawning over Wilson. Clements writes from a favorable point of view, but he does not gloss over Wilson’s mistakes or failures.
Overall I would say that Clements’ Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman is a very good to excellent book. Instead of just focusing only on what Wilson did, the book spends a good deal of time exploring the nature and the character of the man. This approach is interesting, somewhat unusual and certainly worth using in writing biographies generally. I would recommend students and fans of American History read Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman. References
A Checklist of Scholarship on Southern Literature. ” The Mississippi Quarterly. Clements, Kendrick A. Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987. Felzenberg, Alvin S. “Partisan Biases in Presidential Ratings: Ulysses, Woodrow and Calvin … ‘We Hardly Knew Ye. ‘” Whitehouse Studies. Volume 3, 2003. Gaughan, Anthony. “Woodrow Wilson and the Legacy of the Civil War. ” Civil War History. 43, 1997. Kendrick A. Clements: Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus. Cited 15 February 2007; available from World Wide Web: < http://www. cas. sc. edu/hist/faculty/clements/ cvclements. html>.