Colonel House
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Colonel House : A Biography of Woodrow Wilson's Silent Partner

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A man who lived his life mostly in the shadows, Edward M. House is little known or remembered today; yet he was one of the most influential figures of the Wilson presidency. Wilson's chief political advisor, House played a key role in international diplomacy, and had a significant hand in crafting the Fourteen Points at the Paris Peace Conference. Though the intimate friendship between the president and his advisor ultimately unraveled in the wake of these negotiations, House's role in the Wilson administration had a lasting impact on 20th century international politics. In this seminal biography, Charles E. Neu details the life of "Colonel" House, a Texas landowner who rose to become one of the century's greatest political operators. Ambitious and persuasive, House worked largely behind the scenes, developing ties of loyalty and using patronage to rally party workers behind his candidates. In 1911 he met Woodrow Wilson, and almost immediately the two formed what would become one of the most famous friendships in American political history. House became a high-level political intermediary in the Wilson administration, proving particularly adept at managing the intangible realm of human relations. After World War I erupted, House, realizing the complexity of the struggle and the dangers and opportunities it posed for the United States, began traveling to and from Europe as the president's personal representative. Eventually he helped Wilson recognize the need to devise a way to end the war that would place the United States at the center of a new world order. In this balanced account, Neu shows that while House was a resourceful and imaginative diplomat, his analysis of wartime politics was erratic. He relied too heavily on personal contacts, often exaggerating his accomplishments and missing the larger historical forces that shaped the policies of the warring powers. Ultimately, as the Paris Peace Conference unfolded, differences appeared between Wilson and his counselor. Their divergent views on the negotiations led to a bitter split, and after the president left France in June of 1919, he would never see House again. Despite this break, Neu refutes the idea that Wilson and House were antagonists. They shared the same beliefs and aspirations and were, Neu shows, part of an unusual partnership. As an organizer, tactician, and confidant, House helped to make possible Wilson's achievements, and this impressive biography restores the enigmatic counselor to his place at the center of that presidency.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 720 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 48.26mm | 1,133.98g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195045505
  • 9780195045505
  • 679,175

Review quote

Neu has written a detailed, well-researched, definitive biography of House. Although other works have been written about House and Wilson, this book combines their lives into one volume (with the focus on House and his place in history) and affirms the important role of Texas politicians and leaders in the history of the United States. * Janet Schmelzer, Southwestern Historical Quarterly * A powerful and fascinating biography of a powerful man. Colonel House and Woodrow Wilson were unlikely partners, but they shared an interest in American politics in an era in which the United States was emerging as a world power. A great read for cold winter nights or a day at the beach. * Lou Galambos, Professor of History and Editor of the Eisenhower Papers, Johns Hopkins University * At long last, Edward M. House has found the biographer he deserves. Charles Neu employs a sharply critical eye in winnowing fact from fantasy about the man whom contemporaries could call both America's 'finest diplomatic brain' and 'that devious son of a bitch.' * John Cooper, author of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography * Charles Neu's long-anticipated biography of Colonel Edward House is a major achievement that has been worth the wait. The research is exhaustive. The analysis and evaluations are judicious, fully persuasive. The portraits of personalities and depictions of diplomatic vignettes are vivid. Neu's assessment of the U.S. political scene and the international relations of the Woodrow Wilson era is far-ranging and impressive. Readers now have available a comprehensive and enthralling study of one of the commanding figures in twentieth-century American history. * David Mayers, Boston University, author of FDR's Ambassadors and the Diplomacy of Crisis * A wonderful book and gripping all the way through. Charles Neu has done a splendid job. * Larry McMurtry, author of The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove * Colonel House is an enduring analysis of one of the most complicated and important power relationships in American history, indeed in world history. This is a monumental work that stand the test of time. * Samuel R. Williamson, author of Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War * Neu has used House's diary and other papers to craft a remarkably vivid account of the political operator's life... Neu's engrossing narrative has such immediacy that readers share House's hurt and disappointment when Wilson abruptly ended their close friendship... A significant, brightly written American story. * Kirkus Reviews, starred review *show more

About Charles E. Neu

Charles E. Neu is Professor Emeritus of History at Brown University. He is the author of many books, including America's Lost War: Vietnam, 1945-1975.show more

Table of contents

PROLOGUE: A Great Adventure ; PART I. THE TEXAS YEARS, 1858-1912 ; 1. A Spacious Youth. ; 2. Search For A Career. ; 3. The Challenge Of Texas Politics. ; 4. Theshow more

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