From Publishers WeeklyIn this inflated revisionist biography, Sobel seeks to overturn the image of Calvin Coolidge as a taciturn, do-nothing president. He portrays his subject as an embodiment of the ethos of a vanished America, a pragmatic politician who espoused a philosophy of a passive executive branch. Although Coolidge took no actions to promote race relations, never spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan and passed a restrictive immigration bill that singled out Japanese for exclusion from entering the U.S., the 30th president is presented here as a champion of civil rights because, in Sobel's verdict, his public utterances in support of black Americans were outspoken and liberal-minded. There is some unintentionally hilarious understatement: "Coolidge's humor was not of the kind that causes belly laughs." And the author brings William Allen White to the president's defense by quoting him as saying, "Coolidge... was not dumb." In this lively but unpersuasive reappraisal, Sobel (Dangerous Dreamers) is mostly preaching to the converted. His broader theme a refutation of the negative view of the Republican 1920s Harding-Coolidge-Hoover trio as a dismal interregnum between Wilson and FDRA is likewise debatable. Coolidge's presidency, despite Sobel's intentions, comes off as a wasteland of missed opportunities.

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