This is the first comprehensive biography of one of America's best-known yet least-understood political leaders. Earlier biographies of Henry Cabot Lodge, the relentless foe of Woodrow Wilson, have been marred by one-sidedness, for they have been written without the use of Lodge's personal... show more
This is the first comprehensive biography of one of America's best-known yet least-understood political leaders. Earlier biographies of Henry Cabot Lodge, the relentless foe of Woodrow Wilson, have been marred by one-sidedness, for they have been written without the use of Lodge's personal papers, and by men who either admired or hated him to a point at which objectivity was lost. What distinguishes Mr. Garraty's work first and foremost is the fact that it is based on exhaustive research into Lodge's private papers, to which he was given unrestricted access by the Lodge family. But the distinction does not end there. By the judicious use he has made of this unique opportunity, the author has produced a book for which laymen and historians alike have long felt a serious need: an objective, balanced, and integrated analysis of Lodge's long and stormy career as teacher, historian, editor, legislator, and shaper of foreign policy, joined with a perceptive account of his personality and family life.
Throughout this book Mr. Garraty emphasizes the development of Lodge's character. We see the irresponsible boy aristocrat, who loved to pelt pedestrians with snowballs from Beacon Street rooftops and fight with the "muckers" from Boston's South Side, developing into the historian who won one of the first Ph.D.'s awarded by an American university, and the young reformer who abhorred party politics becoming an unbending Republican partisan. Mr. Garraty shows Lodge to have been a far more complex, more human figure than it has been fashionable to believe. His picture of the man contrasts sharply with the bleak Brahmin of the legend.
Yet this book does more than supply a corrective to the prevailing conceptions of Lodge. It throws much new light on some of the most decisive and critical periods of our history. Here is much rich information on the dreadful domestic struggles of the depression-ridden nineties, and on the exciting imperialism that greeted the new century. And here for the first time the fateful and dramatics struggle between Lodge and President Wilson over the League of Nations is disclosed in proper focus and in all its bitterness. There is in this a significant moral for our own day, for the great international issues of Lodge's postwar world have had a direct influence on modern American foreign policy and on world history.
Mr. Garraty seeks to explain Lodge rather than to follow the well-worn debunking tradition. Lodge, in his opinion, was a conservative possessed of all the virtues and vices which that term implies. But the Senator was well aware that the world he lived in was changing rapidly, and he was prepared to make concessions to preserve those values and institutions in which he believed. To our generation, which is reexamining conservatism, Lodge's career offers many useful lessons.
A notable, if not unique, feature of this biography is the footnote commentary by Henry Cabot Lodge, II, in which he expresses disagreement with a number of the author's interpretations of his grandfather's role in the League of Nations debate.