Monday, August 13, 2018

Moore on... a man like Herbert Hoover

The July-August issue of The Literary Review of Canada is out, with among much else, my review of Ken Whyte's 2017 biography of Herbert Hoover, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times.

The else includes Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser reviewing a new French-language account of the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission of the 1960s, Allan Levine on Toronto urban archaeology, Carleigh Baker on Richard Wagamese, and Charles Foran interviewing American journalist Chris Hedges about "the death of America."  Only the Foran-Hedges piece is available online; the rest is pay walled, unless you subscribe.

Hoover? It's a 700 page book and a thousand word review, you should read the whole thing.  One paragraph:
During his rapid ascent, Hoover had acquired a wife. Lou Henry was the hunting, shooting, tree-climbing "daughter of a banker who had given her a single name of a single syllable and raised her as a son." They met in a Stanford geology class in which she was the only female, "comfortable as one of the boys." They married in 1899, remained married until her death in 1944, and raised two sons. Whyte calls them compatible, sharing a love for travel, the outdoors, and fishing, but observes "neither was demonstrative in any sense of the word." They lived contentedly apart for long stretches; as Hoover built a political career in Washington in the 1920s, Lou kept a home of her own in California. When Hoover seemed at risk of being caught in the financial scandals of the Harding administration (he was not), she quietly looked into separating her assets from his. Girls were girls and men were men, perhaps, but I wondered how a feminist biographer -- or novelist -- might imagine the emotional life of Lou the California girl whose distant husband somehow turned out to be president. While Whyte gives us the intriguing details, he does not ponder the Hoovers' marriage deeply.
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