THE LIFE OF HERBERT HOOVER: Vol. II, The Humanitarian, 1914-1917 by George H. Nash

THE LIFE OF HERBERT HOOVER: Vol. II, The Humanitarian, 1914-1917

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second leg of Nash's epic chronicle of Hoover's life, this time covering Hoover's humanitarian endeavors during WW I. Hoover is here remembered for one of his great, often overlooked roles. In London during the outbreak of WW I, Hoover--at age 40 a mining engineer of worldwide repute who had turned his expertise, charm, and organizational abilities into a fortune--now found himself using those same qualities to set up an American Relief Commission to advance funds and find passage home for 150,000 Americans stranded in Europe. Following this, he spent the next four years in London setting up and directing-with rare totalitarian authority--the Commission for Relief in Belgium, thereby saving almost ten million people who surely would have died of starvation if not for his efforts. Nash details Hoover's stewardship of this extragovernmental operation, not so much by adding to the historical record as by highlighting little-known factors hidden in the more than 9,000,000 words of memoirs, letters, books, and documents that he used for his research. Thus, we see Hoover continually stretching the truth in attempts to manipulate various governments into donations of loans of food or money, or safe passage through hazardous waters to Belgium. For instance, Hoover would notify the British--fearful of insurance losses to their fleet--that the Belgium government-in-exile would indemnify any loss, even while negotiating that proposal with the Belgians. Similarly, he would cajole letters out of government officials that he might use in order to manipulate other governments to cooperate with his relief mission. The intense detail may deter casual readers, but historians and those hungry for Hooveriana will graze gratefully on his deeply researched, definitive work.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Norton