Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary (Paperback)

Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary By Geoffrey Cowan Cover Image
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"The best new discussion of the primary system." —Jill Lepore, author of These Truths

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt came out of retirement to challenge William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. TR seized on the campaign theme “Let the People Rule”—a cry echoed in today’s elections—and through the course of his run helped create thirteen new primaries. Though he won most of the primaries, party bosses proved too powerful, and Roosevelt walked out of the convention to create his own Bull Moose Party—only to make the shocking political calculation to ban black delegates from his new coalition. In Let the People Rule, Geoffrey Cowan takes readers inside the dramatic campaign that changed American politics forever.

About the Author

Geoffrey Cowan, former president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership at the University of Southern California, is the best-selling author of The People v. Clarence Darrow. He lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

Dazzling…Cowan brings fresh depth and breadth to this sordid tale.
— Robert Merry - Wall Street Journal

A rich, eye-popping political history. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive hero, but he could play as rough as today’s most cynically expedient politicians.
— Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon and Robert Kennedy

A lively, relevant primer in the sausage-making of candidate selection…Few historians have given this shameful chapter in the Progressive Party the attention that it deserves.
— Thomas Curwen - Los Angeles Times

Cowan tells his story with great verve.
— H. W. Brands - Washington Post

The political process as Hunger Games: no matter which tribute emerges as victor, the Gamemaker has the power. Teddy Roosevelt changed the system and still couldn’t beat the odds.

— Time

Admirably nuanced.
— Ari Berman - New York Times Book Review

A fascinating tale…I found this book revelatory.
— Janet Napolitano, president, University of California

Lively and detailed history…Besides the sheer action afforded by the vivid narrative and larger-than-life personalities, this book offers obvious parallels with current political fights and illuminates their origins.
— Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University, and author of When Should Law Forgive?

A suspenseful narrative, replete with larger-than-life personalities, and a must-read backstory for anyone concerned with the history and fate of a democracy that, at its best, aims to ‘Let the People Rule.’

— Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

You wouldn’t think that there would be anything new to say about Theodore Roosevelt by now. But Geoffrey Cowan has brought to life a fascinating part of TR’s story usually left out of the history books. He tells it with verve and suspense, warts and all, his insights deepened by his own impressive background as a democracy activist.
— Adam Hochschild, author, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

Rips the lid off of the 1912 presidential
election. Cowan brilliantly illuminates everything from the birth of the political
primary system to the disenfranchisement of African Americans to egos writ large.
The narrative has a marvelous flow and the research is superb.
— Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

Cowan has brilliantly re-created a pivotal moment in American political history…brought vividly to life through dogged and creative research and graceful storytelling. Political junkies across America are buckling in for another tumultuous primary season in 2016—and they couldn’t find a better way to prepare than to devour this rollicking and remarkably current tale of how it all began, over a century ago.
— Ronald Brownstein, editorial director for strategic partnerships, Atlantic Media

A fresh and perceptive look… Based on extensive research in original sources, Let the People Rule laces striking information on TR’s race against President Taft with new insights and a fresh and important analysis. Let the People Rule is the book to read on Roosevelt’s pivotal year.

— Lewis L. Gould, author of The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party

For those of us who believe that modern American politics began at the turn of the twentieth and not the twenty-first century, Geoff Cowan has produced a fresh contribution to the argument. The modern mechanics of presidential selection, the rise of candidacies largely independent of party, and the mobilization of autonomous supporters: all come to life in Let the People Rule.

— Byron E. Shafer, Hawkins Chair of Political Science, University of Wisconsin
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393353693
ISBN-10: 0393353699
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: January 17th, 2017
Pages: 432
Language: English