||Critical Acclaim for
The Year of the Six
|A Selection of the History Book Club|
Kirkus Reviews "Best Books of 2007"
|"A rousing chronicle of the political year that saw six American presidents, past, present and
future, vying simultaneously for high office.
"Poised between the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and the
ensuing decade that would earn itself the qualifier “roaring,” 1920 found Americans craving
a pause, a return to the soothing “normalcy” of a bygone era. Who better fit the national
mood than the thoroughly undistinguished Senator Warren G. Harding? After an intense
primary season and many convention ballots, the Republican Party finally settled on the
affable Ohioan and his law-and-order running-mate, Massachusetts Governor Calvin
Coolidge, choices made easier by the sudden death of the beloved TR, himself eyeing a
comeback, and the one man capable of disturbing the party’s predilection for calm.
Incumbent President Wilson, bedridden after a debilitating stroke, shed no tears over the
death of his bitter enemy and unaccountably believed the Democratic Party would extend
his discredited presidency by nominating him for an unprecedented third term. Instead, the
party chose Ohio Governor James Cox, like Harding a former small-town newspaper editor,
and for vice-president, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a charming fellow from New
York, who came with the added advantage of that hallowed name Roosevelt: Franklin D.
Only Herbert Hoover’s seeming desire to be anointed rather than nominated (he refused to
disclose his party affiliation) kept this internationally acclaimed humanitarian from being a
bigger factor in the race. Other figures who helped shape the political battle—Eugene Debs,
Hiram Johnson, Leonard Wood, William McAdoo, A. Mitchell Palmer, Nicholas Murray
Butler, Alfred E. Smith—are highlighted as well. Pietrusza (Rothstein: The Life Times, and
Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series, 2003) adds color and
dimension with smart discussions of Prohibition, women’s suffrage, immigration, civil rights,
the League of Nations and labor strife, and he offers animated portraits of William Jennings
Bryan, Carrie Chapman Catt, Henry Ford, Marcus Garvey, Sacco and Vanzetti, William
Randolph Hearst, H.L. Mencken and many others.
"A hugely fascinating episode in American history, told with insight and great humor, by an
author in command of his subject."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"absorbing . . . a broad, satisfying political and social history, in the style of Doris Kearns
"broad, fluid brush strokes . . . a brisk narrative"
—The Wall Street Journal
"David Pietrusza has a gift for making the past both real and dramatically gripping, and in
1920 he has an extraordinary cast of characters with which to work his magic. Imagine a
year when Herbert Hoover was a global hero, and FDR a callow bit player; when a
repudiated and physically broken president fantasized about vindication at the polls; and
millions of women casting their first votes helped elect Hollywood's idea of a president, one
Warren Gamaliel Harding. Add those temperamental opposites Theodore Roosevelt and
Calvin Coolidge to the mix, and you have one helluva historical dinner party. An
unforgettable group portrait of America on the brink of modernity"
—Richard Norton Smith
—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
"1920: The Year of the Six Presidents is everything a great narrative history should be:
deeply researched, vividly written, brimming with detail and sharp, revealing quotations.
David Pietrusza is a jolly chronicler of a bitter presidential campaign waged at a fraught
historical moment, and he brings his large and colorful cast of characters to life on the page.
Readers get a ringside seat to a great political show"
—Elaine Weiss, Author of The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
"a colorful, nonacademic account . . . Most of all, there are the characters. Pietrusza draws
them sharply: the imperious Wilson, the obliging Harding, the dour and honest Coolidge and
the ambitious and dissembling Franklin Roosevelt. Fans of political history will enjoy this
"Fascinating and compelling . . . Highly recommended."
"It will blow your mind . . . a fantastic book."
"I just finished 1920 and liked it a lot . . . a fine job in capturing the personalities of an
interesting cast of political characters and the era in which they lived."
—President George W. Bush
"The President passed on your book after he finished it . . . I dipped into 1920 and found
myself devouring it in one weekend. A great read—chock full of great insights and brilliant
portraits. Thanks for a wonderful volume . . a great read."
"An ably popular treatment that fans of campaign histories will enjoy."
"full of fascinating and colorful anecdotes about an election at the turning point of American
—The American Spectator
—Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog
"If you buy ANY political book this Xmas get 1920 by David Pietrusza - The Year of 6
Presidents- Best political book I read in 2012"
"A terrific and fun read."
"More than just a story of six men who either already had been president or would be, this is
the story of America as it moved into the modern age."
"a very vivid portrait of each of these presidents."
—Ann Compton, ABC News
"an essential read for anyone interested not only in presidential history, but the history of
—Katherine Webb, Entertainment CheatSheet
"a superb recounting of a largely forgotten political season"
—Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL)
"Pietrusza is a very gifted writer with a marvelous eye for anecdote. Even a reader familiar
with American electoral history will learn things from this lively history, and a reader
unfamiliar with the politics of the period will enjoy an engaging introduction to an unusually
complicated political cycle."
—David Frum, National Review Online
—William Schulz, Former Washington Bureau Chief & Executive Editor, The Reader's Digest
"Through a lens trained on a long-ago election, David Pietrusza's 1920: The Year of Six
Presidents, delivers a rich and compelling narrative of American politics. Exploring a year
when giant figures of American history were waxing and waning, he deftly explains how we
ended up with a presidential showdown between two largely unknown—yet surprisingly
randy—editors of small-town Ohio newspapers, which Warren Harding won principally by
—David O. Stewart, author of The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the
"Sweeping and original."
—The History Book Club
"In 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents, writer David Pietrusza shows the right way to pull
together disparate characters into a coherent narrative. . . .this book portrays an America
that has stopped looking backward and has begun to craft a new country and a new world
—The Washington Times
"An absolutely wonderful book . . . I loved [it], absolutely marvelous, absolutely wonderful
research . . . just a great read, marvelously done, brilliantly constructed and really integrates
the entire story of one year—1920. . . . if I were teaching a history class of early twentieth
century America this is the book I would use. . . . It reads like a novel but it's fact . . . a great
—John Rothmann, KGO (San Francisco)
"I just love 1920: The Year of Six Presidents by David Pietrusza. It's not historical fiction, but
plain old history that zips along like good fiction. I just wish I'd read it before I wrote my
—Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online
" . . . a campaign like no other before or since. David Pietrusza, a seasoned crime-and-
mystery writer, builds the suspense of the 1920 campaign so effectively that the reader
easily suspends, for the moment, knowledge of the outcome, as if it were still about to
happen. . . [Pietrusza] organizes the story in a way that produces high drama."
—The Weekly Standard
—Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst, Real Clear Politics
"I loved 1920."
—John Gizzi, Political Editor, Human Events
"I agree with Jonah Goldberg—I wish I had read it before I wrote my book."
—Burton W. Folsom Jr., Author of "New Deal or Raw: Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy
Has Damaged America
"Informative and captivating, 1920 offers a beguiling look into one of the most tumultuous
and important—yet curiously overlooked—presidential elections of the twentieth century.
David Pietrusza writes vividly and engagingly enough to make it all sound like a particularly
engrossing political novel, except this one really happened."
—Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad
"complex and satisfying"
"With a storyteller's eye for characters and drama, Pietrusza re-creates America at a post-
World War I turning point, when the country wanted steady leadership but got scandal
—Washington CEO Magazine
"outstanding . . . fascinating"
—Al Kresta, Ave Maria Radio
"a fine and lively recommendation both for high school and college collections strong in
American history and politics in particular, or even public lending libraries."
"David Pietrusza's new book—1920 The Year of Six Presidents—is awesome! David writes
history with such clarity and insights, you don't want to put the book down. You'll feel the
—Pat Williams, Author and Vice President, Orlando Magic
"Pietrusza's volume brings the vivid history of the 1920 election to life. Both entertaining and
insightful, it provides exceptionally well crafted "mini" biographies of the six presidents and
how their careers intersected that year. The narrative is rich and compelling as it peeks into
the backrooms and describes the national mood. Pietrusza's handling of the personalities,
issues, trends and techniques that went on to define American politics in the first half of the
20th century is to be recommended to anyone with an interest in presidential biography or
U.S. political history."
—Dr. Ron Faucheux
Author; Former Editor-in-Chief, Campaigns and Elections Magazine and Campaign Insider
newsletter; Former Louisiana legislator and Secretary of Commerce
"With journalistic flair, David Pietrusza . . . brings to life the 1920 election."
—Author Ross A. Kennedy
"I couldn't put it down."
--Frank Morano (970TheAnswer, NYC)
"An incredible read . . . Five stars from this corner on a remarkable piece of work."
—Reagan Smith, WFLA (Tampa)
"David Pietrusza's remarkable new book 1920: The Year of Six Presidents is exactly the
way history should be written. It is riveting, involving, filled with verifiable fact and
compelling anecdote. It makes the era come alive [and] challenges presumptions about well-
known figures . . ."
—Glenn Raucher, West Side Y's Writer's Voice
"astonishingly detailed . . . an essential read for anyone interested not only in presidential
history, but the history of election politics."
"fast paced, highly readable"
—Caffeinated Politics Blog
"grabs you from the first sentence"
—Coy Barefoot, WAMI Radio
"detailed and insightful"
—Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative
"a compelling narrative . . .well-written, well-researched . . . well worth the time of anyone
interested in American political history."
"FASCINATING book, one of the best I've read in years. . . . I think I might have a new
favorite living author."
—Michael Koolidge, Host "The Michael Koolidge Show"
—Dr. Joe Harder, Macomb County Community College
"a lively chronicle"
"a page-turner of a political story that brings history to life."
"terrific . . . a wild gallop"
—Bill Bodkin, HeadButler.com
"I have read some of the background of Roosevelt's and Taft's relationship, and actually
been moved to tears by David Pietrusza's account of it in his superb book"
"I was so hooked after I read 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents."
—Malcolm Farnsworth (australianpolitics.com)
"If you are someone who loves American history, you will love Pietrusza’s well-told saga of
the 1920 presidential race and the six former or future Presidents who played important
roles in this story. If you are someone who doesn’t like history, but wish you did, this is a
book with your name on it, for it is history with a human face. . . . Set against the backdrop
of women’s suffrage, prohibition, the open activity of the Ku Klux Klan and the emergence of
America as a world industrial power, Pietrusza tells a fascinating story that will leave you
glad that you took the ride."
"In 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents historian David Pietrusza masterfully weaves the
narrative of a campaign set amid the background of a rapidly changing American
electorate—more urbanized and less rural than ever before, increasingly mobile through the
rise of the automobile, wary of international entanglements after the carnage on the
battlefields of Europe and adapting to new waves of immigration.
"Republicans had the upper hand amid this political tumult, with the team of Ohio Sen.
Warren G. Harding and Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge romping to victory against and
under funded and out-gunned Democratic ticket, the understudy role anchored by future
President D. Roosevelt. Herbert Hoover, a national hero for his post-war relief efforts in
Europe also made a late bid for the GOP nod. And hanging over the specter of the
contested Republican nomination was the late President Theodore Roosevelt, who likely
would have been the GOP standard-bearer had he not died in early 1919. President
Woodrow Wilson himself desperately wanted to a third term, but his physical infirmity and
divisions among Democrats ruled out that possibility.
"In addition to the six presidents Pietrusza brilliantly brings to life a cast of rising stars, party
hacks, backroom dealers and assorted other characters whose names even most political
junkies are likely to scratch their heads at. Republican presidential aspirants like General
Leonard Wood and Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden have been largely lost to history but
Pietrusza deftly describes how a few different moves amid the backroom dealings of the
Chicago convention might have brought about a different result than the scandal-plagued
"Pietrusza's 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents is essential to discover how presidents
were really chosen in the pre-television and internet age. This should be required reading
for college political science and history courses."
—David Mark, author of Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning and senior editor at
—Matt K. Lewis
"Pietrusza offers a lively chronicle of a country emerging from World War I into a precarious
and heady sense of 20th-century possibility."
Four-time winner of the Time Warner Cable National Teachers Award
"a narrative of intrigue and interaction"
"History books walk a fine line and it’s difficult for historians to be informative and
entertaining. Pietrusza makes it look easy. 1920: The Year of Six Presidents is not merely a
great read; it’s a great experience. Theodore White’s The Making of the President series
might be the standard that books about Presidential campaigns are measured against, but
Pietrusza’s 1920 gives White a run for his money."
—Anthony Bergen, deadpresidents.tumblr.com
"a riveting read that brings back to life the Roaring Twenties"
—Ed Tant, onlineathens. com (Athens Banner-Herald)
"a book that I simply loved . . . fascinating, filled with intimate details . . ."
—France Kessing, KDVS Radio
"amazing . . . For anyone seriously interested in seeing today's Iowa Caucuses/ New Hamp.
Primaries/Super Tuesdays, they MUST, as a student of yesterday's political intrigue, read
"a wealth of data"
—Perspectives: A Journal of Political Inquiry
—Columbia (OR) Daily News
"Pietrusza does an excellent job of painting colorful and surprising portraits of these six
—William L. Wunder, suite101.com
—The LuLace Political Report
"It's a great book, deserving of its popularity. An important election, a suprisingly important
—Educator Joseph A. Esposito, former Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs at
the U.S. Department of Education.
"An amazing convergence of politicians, policy wonks, and future politicians. Outstanding
"a pertinent read"
"a fun read . . . you're really going to enjoy this book."
—Paul Murphy, Co-host of NewsTalk 790 Today, WAYY
"Crackling fun is not the usual description most people use for historical accounts but David
Pietrusza is not most historians. He sure does like the 1920s and presidential campaigns. In
this book, he was able to do both."
—Blogger Jowana Bueser
"a compelling narrative that brings to life events whose consequences reverberated through
the 20th Century."
"incredibly readable—the kind you can’t put down and wish could just continue. "
—blogger "bedsitter 23"
"David Pietrusza delves into all of the different personalities and platforms that made up the
dash for the White House, confirming the old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction."
—Dani Spencer, electricliterature.com
"A good read"
—Bill Gruver, The Arizona Report
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