Coolidge by Amity Shlaes


13 Critic Reviews

Like-minded readers will find Shlaes’ well-researched but highly opinionated biography deeply satisfying.


Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man, delivers a brilliant and provocative reexamination of America’s thirtieth president, Calvin Coolidge, and the decade of unparalleled growth that the nation enjoyed under his leadership. In this riveting biography, Shlaes traces Coolidge’s improbable rise from a tiny town in New England to a youth so unpopular he was shut out of college fraternities at Amherst College up through Massachusetts politics. After a divisive period of government excess and corruption, Coolidge restored national trust in Washington and achieved what few other peacetime presidents have: He left office with a federal budget smaller than the one he inherited. A man of calm discipline, he lived by example, renting half of a two-family house for his entire political career rather than compromise his political work by taking on debt. Renowned as a throwback, Coolidge was in fact strikingly modern—an advocate of women’s suffrage and a radio pioneer. At once a revision of man and economics, Coolidge gestures to the country we once were and reminds us of qualities we had forgotten and can use today.

About Amity Shlaes

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Amity Shlaes writes a syndicated column for Bloomberg View and directs the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Forgotten Man and The Greedy Hand. Shlaes chairs the jury of the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Book Prize and has won both the Hayek and the Bastiat Prize for Journalism. She is a trustee of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.
Published February 12, 2013 by Harper. 1025 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Mar 03 2013
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Coolidge
All: 13 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 4


on Oct 17 2012

Like-minded readers will find Shlaes’ well-researched but highly opinionated biography deeply satisfying.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jacob Heilbrunn on Feb 14 2013

...Coolidge is no model for the present. He is a bleak omen from the past.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Nov 26 2012

She fails to illuminate what it meant for all Americans to Keep Cool with Coolidge during the complex 1920s.

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WSJ online

on Feb 08 2013

Ms. Shlaes has given us a detailed examination.

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The Economist

Above average
on Feb 23 2013

American readers who believe intervention to be a good thing are likely to blanch at a controversial new biography of Coolidge by Amity Shlaes...

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The Washington Post

on Feb 13 2013

Were Barack Obama, America’s most loquacious president (699 first-term teleprompter speeches), capable of learning from someone with whom he disagrees, he would profit from Amity Shlaes’s new biography of Coolidge.

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Christian Science Monitor

Below average
on Feb 13 2013

Shlaes has written the first substantial book on Coolidge in a decade, but ideology undermines her narrative.

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USA Today

Reviewed by Matt Damsker, on Feb 15 2013

...Shlaes delivers a finely muted drama — the tale of an unprepossessing man who overcomes, prevails, exits with honor and establishes something admittedly special: an American archetype.

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Dallas News

on Feb 15 2013

Shlaes deserves thanks for helping us, nearly a century after his tenure, to consider his approach to economic policy and the presidency, as well as his place in history.

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on Feb 14 2013

To anyone who has ever been dismayed by excessive government spending, Coolidge (Harper, 2013), Amity Shlaes’ revisionist biography of America’s 30th president, is a welcome corrective.

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National Review Online

on Feb 18 2013

Yes we have much to learn from Silent Cal on immigration, as on so much else.

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History Book Club


It is Shlaes accomplishment not only to make Coolidge and his administration genuinely interesting, whether or not one shares her views, but also to understand why he remains relevant, at least for some, even almost a century later.

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Real Clear History

on Feb 11 2013

Thoroughly entertaining and enlightening biography.

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