A Companion to Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Edited by Katherine A. S. Sibley. Maiden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2014. 616 pp.
This volume in the publisher's Companions to American History series looks at the three Republican administrations that defined the 1920s and early 1930s. As with other works in this series, it uses a number of often overlapping essays to establish the basic timeline and historiography of the period. A strength of this series (and of this particular volume) is that it extends well beyond the basic political narrative to consider major events in social and cultural history as well.
This work consists of 27 chapters divided among five parts. Part I looks at the Progressive legacy in three chapters, and this is the section most focused on pure politics. Each of the next three parts addresses one of the three administrations (Harding, Coolidge and Hoover), with six to eight chapters per administration. Each of these parts devotes at least one chapter to the president's biography, politics and foreign policy, along with other chapters that help establish the social and cultural context. Part V consists of a single chapter that places these three Republican administrations in a broader perspective.
This is a valuable series, and this particular volume is a very useful component in it. The objective of the series is to develop evolving historiographies: these three Republican administrations provide excellent examples of changing scholarly interpretations. As all of the authors make clear in different ways, the combination of the corruption of the Harding administration and the economic disaster of the Great Depression seem to doom these three presidents to political obscurity. Historians, until recently, have highlighted the differences between these three Republicans and the politics of Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives that came before, and Franklin Roosevelt and the liberals that followed. This, in part, was a legacy of press coverage and contemporary writers who often focused on these differences at the time. Over the past 30 years, a...