Monday, September 18, 2006

"Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand"

Terry Hartle, a senior vice president with the American Council on Education, reviewed Godfrey Hodgson's Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House for the Christian Science Monitor.

I sure wish this book had been around ten years ago. Back then I spent a great deal of time learning the story of House's impact on American foreign policy and alliance diplomacy. And it is a fascinating story.

I worked mainly with The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (ed. by Charles Seymour) and the collected papers of Woodrow Wilson, as well as a number of memoirs from contemporary U.S. and European sources.

Hartle's review makes me think my research would have gone much quicker had Hodgson's book been available. Here is the start of the review:

Senior advisers to the president of the United States are very public figures. Their impact on public policy is widely recognized, and the media often accords them more attention than cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.

This was not always so. Col. Edward House, arguably the most influential presidential adviser in American history, is virtually unknown today except among professional historians. But this quiet, private man had an enormous influence on President Woodrow Wilson and American foreign policy before, during and after
World War I.

According to the British scholar Godfrey Hodgson, House "was the ablest diplomat the U.S. had produced up to his time and one of the ablest it has ever bred." Strong praise, to say the least. But in Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand, Hodgson makes a strong case to support his view.

Click here to read the entire Hartle review.

Click here to read Hodgson's essay, "We'd Be Better Off If Our Foreign Policy Was Less Woodrow Wilson and More Colonel House."

--Marshal Zeringue