In This Review

Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters. Volume VI. Facing War, 1915-1917
Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters. Volume VI. Facing War, 1915-1917
By Ray Stannard Baker
Doubleday, 1937, 543 pp

This latest addition to the "official" biography of Wilson will attract wide attention since it deals with the year and a half prior to American entry into the World War. As the biographies and private papers of Wilson's contemporaries are published, and as new information is unearthed by such agencies as the Senate Committee on Munitions, the more grist there is for Mr. Baker's mill. In the present volume he has made full use of this new material. Since it covers the period from the fall of 1915 to early April 1917, it naturally has as its central theme Wilson's patient efforts to keep us out of war. His object in so doing, we come more and more to see, was to protect the American people not only from the actual horrors of war but from that invasion of their rights and liberties which he knew must accompany any war regardless of the idealistic motives for which it was ostensibly being fought. His passionate devotion was to peace, a just peace. Even after he was convinced that his Cabinet and the country at large were ready for war with Germany, he was reluctant to take the fatal step because he felt that American participation would make more difficult the creation of a just -- and therefore enduring -- peace. Among the other problems facing Wilson during these trying months were the complications with Mexico, the campaign for preparedness, the election of 1916 and his reform legislation -- all of which are woven by Baker into the fabric of his narrative. To a large though not annoying extent Baker lets Wilson speak for himself through his letters, notes, addresses and recorded conversations.