Whether you love him or hate him, it is indisputable that few, if any, other 20th-century American presidents were as historically consequential as Woodrow Wilson. Historian Patricia O’Toole
explores the many complexities and ramifications of the Wilson presidency in her book The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made
(Simon and Schuster, 2018). As we near the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, O’Toole follows Wilson’s attempt to establish a League of Nation which, while ill-fated in his time, still laid the groundwork for the United Nations. She tackles Wilson’s sorry legacy of racially segregating parts of the federal civil service, arguing Wilson was driven by a desire to accommodate Southern Democratic legislators in order to win their support for his progressive economic agenda. Whether despite or because of his uncompromising, moralistic nature, she concludes that his forceful embrace of internationalism and democracy defined the 20th century and helped transform the world.
Bill Scher is a Contributing Editor for POLITICO Magazine. He has provided political commentary on CNN, NPR and MSNBC. He has been published in
The New York Times, The New Republic, and
The New York Daily News among other publications. He is author of
Wait! Don’t Move to Canada, published by Rodale in 2006.