Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
Rightly or wrongly, Herbert Hoover is the man most remembered for ushering in the Great Depression. Many people, even back then, blamed Hoover for the stock market crash and subsequent crisis to follow, even naming the shantytowns that were built “Hoovervilles.” In the decades since, especially after the 1980 election, more and more biographies have been published to help resurrect his reputation and to explore the man and how he was raised and how that might have affected his response to the Great Depression. You can add this new biography by Kenneth Whyte to the growing number of books that are working at helping his reputation. Mr. Whyte breaks down Mr. Hoover’s life into different parts and takes his time examining each part, including his one term as president and the disaster that it was. It is highly readable, and he does not get bogged down in the sources and keeps things moving. But he never really comes that close to why Hoover responded the way he did; the closest we come is Hoover’s response to the New Deal. It is like Hoover could not get out of late Victorian-era thinking and come up with anything new.