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By the author of acclaimed biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Adams, a penetrating biography of one of the most high-minded, consequential, and controversial US presidents, Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) . The Moralist is a cautionary tale about the perils of moral vanity and American overreach in foreign affairs.

In domestic affairs, Wilson was a progressive who enjoyed unprecedented success in leveling the economic playing field, but he was behind the times on racial equality and women's suffrage. As a Southern boy during the Civil War, he knew the ravages of war, and as president he refused to lead the country into World War I until he was convinced that Germany posed a direct threat to the United States.

Once committed, he was an admirable commander-in-chief, yet he also presided over the harshest suppression of political dissent in American history.

After the war Wilson became the world's most ardent champion of liberal internationalism - a democratic new world order committed to peace, collective security, and free trade. With Wilson's leadership, the governments at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 founded the League of Nations, a federation of the world's democracies. The creation of the League, Wilson's last great triumph, was quickly followed by two crushing blows: a paralyzing stroke and the rejection of the treaty that would have allowed the United States to join the League.

After a backlash against internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s, Wilson's liberal internationalism was revived by Franklin D. Roosevelt and it has shaped American foreign relations - for better and worse - ever since.



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