Herbert Hoover

An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times

Kenneth Whyte

My Copies



Modern, decently written, specific, well-rounded. Overall, probably the best single biography to understand Hoover's life in detail. A bit boring, though.

During a winter cold snap when he was two years old, Herbert fell victim to the croup, a viral infection that inflames the larynx and obstructs breathing... Jesse fetched Dr. Henry John Minthorn, Hulda's brother and one of two physicians in West Branch. Minthorn ministered to his nephew by lamplight through most of an icy night... When the patient seemed better, Minthorn left to make an urgent call in the countryside. The attacks resumed while he was away... [Herbert] turned blue, stopped breathing entirely, and was given up for dead... [Minthorn] dashed back to his sister's, where he was greeted at the door with the cry "Bertie is gone!"... [Minthorn] used either mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or his finger, or some combination of both, to clear Bertie's throat and coax another coughing fit. The child's breath was restored, and the doctor handed him over to his mother, saying "Here's your boy."

  • about Herbert Hoover, Dr. Henry John Minthorn, Jesse Hoover, Hulda Minthorn Hoover
    • pp. 5-6 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)

    Jesse was thirty-four, the cause of his death uncertain. Neighbors gave it as pneumonia and typhoid, while the death certificate cited "rheumatism of the heart, complicated by gastritis." Dr. Minthorn, who was in Kansas but remained close to his sister's family, declared it heart disease.

    • p. 12 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)

    The New York Times said that it was only becoming apparent in retrospect how much power he had wielded during the peace talks: "He has been the nearest approach to a dictator Europe has had since Napoleon."

  • about Herbert Hoover, Napoleon Bonaparte
    • p. 225 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)

    Keynes, whose pessimism toward the pace settlement had matched Hoover's, called him "the only man who emerged from the ordeal of Paris with an enhanced reputation"... Keynes's perspective was shared widely in Europe. When Woodrow Wilson won the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Paris, a leading Austrian newspaper wrote that it would more appropriately have been awarded to Hoover, "who has earned the gratitude of mankind as no one else has done."

  • by Kenneth Whyte, John Maynard Keynes
  • about Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson
    • p. 225 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)

    He viewed intense partisanship as an unprofessional waste of resources unlikely to lead to optimal managerial outcomes, and he thought the theater of retail politics foolish and inherently dishonest, a notion that permitted him to make a principle of having no skill at it.

  • about Herbert Hoover
    • p. 344 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)