Never has the United States elected a more accomplished man to the presidency than Herbert Clark Hoover, whose organizational genius saved millions of lives from famine and destitution. Never has the ensuing presidency been marked by worse disasters.
That paradox has energized every biographer of Hoover, from William Leuchtenberg’s brilliant brief study to the massive six-volume collective effort headed by George Nash (which I must confess from the start to having “read in,” but never to have actually “read”).
The paradox again energizes the latest of the biographies, by Kenneth Whyte, released last month. (I should mention here that Whyte was the founding editor of a newspaper to which I contributed a column between 1998 and 2013.)
The central question in assessing a