A well-balanced, insightful biography of our most idealistic president, presenting his flaws as well as his important place in history. Beginning with the dramatic story of Wilson's most difficult decision--to ask for a declaration of war against Germany--Randolph contrasts his peaceful childhood and early idealism with his developing career, first as a lawyer too highly principled to succeed and then as a successful academic and politician. Throughout, the author documents his physical infirmities and moral rigidity, illuminating his motives in the struggle over entering WW I and his ultimate failure to persuade the US to join the League of Nations. Randolph effectively conveys the feelings of the time, including the bigotry and intolerance Wilson predicted before calling for war, and also presents Wilson's human side: his despair at the death of his first wife and ecstatic love for the second. Not for beginners at politics, but useful for anyone who wants to understand the difficulties facing those who try to live by their highest principles.