This industrious biography highlights every possible ""human"" facet of the brusque, austere Ohio Senator while charting his legislative work and party role quite objectively, if sometimes superficially. One gets a good sense of the old-fashioned patrician milieux of Taft's boyhood as the President's son, his student years, and his early career in law and Ohio politics; and one also gets a feeling for the tensions experienced by the admirer of Hoover who, like Hoover, was basically an independently-minded technocrat, who hated baby-kissing, yet ached to be President. Taft's ambitious campaigns for regressive tax programs, his fight against price controls, his tempered but emphatic anti-labor stance (the Taft-Hartley Act), his participation in red-hunts, add up in this book to an emphasis on his ""conservative"" side rather than the ""libertarian"" side stressed by writers who have underlined his opposition to the draft, his advocacy of public housing, etc. But Patterson shows in passing that when Taft did take a liberal position on housing or federal aid to education, he had good pragmatic reasons; however, Taft's world-view as a member of a national elite is not explored. Instead Patterson tends to portray him as simply anti-Eastern money and pro-small business -- like any old parochial Midwestern Republican. But most readers will be concerned with the narrative rather than the analysis or lack thereof, and, despite a cliche-heavy style, Patterson's account of the 1952 fight against Ike for the presidential nomination exemplifies the book's documentary virtues. Taft's collected papers, as well as private papers of contemporaries, were made available for the first time.