William Howard Taft: An Intimate History

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How could a politically unambitious man like William Howard Taft, who yearned for only one post, a seat on the Supreme Court, be chosen for ever higher national offices and ultimately win the presidency, a triumph he did not want?

This book deals with the impact of Taft's numerous inner conflicts and his decision-making ability--and, in particular, on his frequent failure to make decisions at all. Here is the evolution of Taft's conflicts and extraordinary dependencies, which began in childhood, were exacerbated by certain kinds of success--all of which were peculiarly illuminated by fluctuations in his weight.

We also see his marriage to Helen Herron Taft, a woman whose influence was powerful--and that is perhaps the most significant key to our understanding of Taft's career. We see for the first time how the reluctant Taft was pushed into office by his indomitable wife. Here, too, is an analysis of his unique personal relationship with Theodore Roosevelt, a tragicomic affair that, when it broke up, left Taft demoralized. Perhaps far more than most men who have achieved great public office, Taft was a product and a victim of his ties to those he loved.

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