The Approaching Storm: Roosevelt, Wilson, Addams, and Their Clash over America’s Future

Riverhead. Oct. 2021. 672p. ISBN 9780735210592. $29. HIST
In this latest book, award-winning historian Lanctot (Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella) focuses on the responses of three iconic figures in progressivism to the United States’ burgeoning global position, specifically its involvement in the Great War. Born within a few years of each other, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jane Addams, illustrating varying forms of internationalism, fearlessly took conflicting stances on the Great War while combatting their own physical challenges. Lanctot makes abundant use of primary sources, most of them already well-mined by historians, except for the papers of James Norman Hall (an American aviator who served in World War I and later escaped to Tahiti, where he co-authored the “Mutiny on the Bounty” trilogy). In this thought-provoking narrative, Lanctot saves speculation until the end, where he conjectures that if Wilson had made different decisions during his presidency, a longer and less conclusive conflict might have beneficially resulted in a sustainable global power equilibrium.
VERDICT Lanctot offers a well-written presentation on a familiar topic, which general readers might compare to Justus Doenecke’s Nothing Less Than War and G. J. Meyer’s The World Remade.
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