Book review: 'Coolidge' is an interesting biography

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 3:36 p.m. MST

"COOLIDGE," by Amity Shlaes, HarperCollins, $35, 576 pages (nf)

"Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes is a biography based on the life of Calvin Coolidge. It is a stimulating examination of the 30th president of the United States.

Shlaes begins with establishing Coolidge's roots. She talks about his New England heritage and his unpopularity with his peers. She draws a picture of a very simple young man who makes his way to Ahmerst College and eventually to Washington, D.C.

Coolidge was a powerful president who made the White House a symbol of peace and security. Coolidge was known as an advocate of women's rights and a pioneer of the radio. Coolidge was also a man who lived on little means and did not advocate extravagant living.

Coolidge is a president who is relatively unknown. The research that Shlaes conducted in order to complete this book is impressive. She is an acclaimed historian who knows her subject well.

Not only is Shlaes well versed in history, she is also competent in politics and how the United States government runs. Those who are not familiar with politics might not understand some parts of "Coolidge."

"Coolidge" is an exhausting book. It has intricate details that all contribute to painting the picture of who the man was. Though the details are interesting, it almost seems like the end of "Coolidge" will never come.

Shlaes depicts Coolidge as an hard-working individual with an honorable work ethic. One of the most interesting parts of the book is when she talks about his family. An example is given of Calvin Coolidge Jr., who was told by his father that he would work in a tobacco field over the summer. His son describes the grueling days, but attributes his work ethic to his father.

All in all, "Coolidge" is a valuable asset to any historians collection of books. Because of the mature content, those 16 and older will probably enjoy "Coolidge" the most.

Shelby Scoffield has a bachelor's in English from Brigham Young University and a master's in rhetoric and composition from Stanislaus State University. She is currently working on her teaching credentials so she can teach high school English.

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