Book Review: Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR by Dean Kotlowski.

AuthorBooth, Christopher
PositionBook review

Kotlowski, Dean J. Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. xviii + 581 pages. Hardcover, $45.00.

In renowned presidential historian Dean Kotlowski's latest book, Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR, the author brings from out of the shadows one of the most prominent American politicians of the 1930s. By utilizing numerous speeches, letters, archival records, newspaper articles, secondary sources and even first-hand research conducted in the Philippines, Kotlowski weaves together a superb biography of former Indiana Governor and democratic, presidential hopeful Paul Vories McNutt. Kotlowski, a professor of history at Salisbury University, contends that Paul McNutt was not merely a politician destined for obscurity, but instead was a complex man who possessed the requisite talent and skills to become president, yet never achieved that goal mostly due to the circumstances of the time period in which he lived.

Chronicling McNutt's life from birth to death, Kotlowski includes details about how the famous Hoosier's life and political career intersected at numerous, pivotal crossroads with that of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). FDR's accession to the head of the Democratic Party in the 1930s allowed him to achieve the presidency of the United States at the exact time that McNutt had such similar aspirations. Kotlowski demonstrates throughout his book that FDR's presence at the head of the Democratic Party and his stature in the White House seemingly thwarted McNutt's goals during the prime of his political career. However, Kotlowski maintains an unbiased attitude and details the powerful negative aspects of McNutt's personality which also played a significant role in his eventual political decline.

Born on July 19, 1891, in rural Indiana, Paul McNutt's rise to a presidential hopeful was not preordained. Nevertheless, McNutt was successful climbing every rung of the ladder to the top. Graduating with high marks from Indiana University, McNutt matriculated at Harvard Law School. Following the United States' entrance into World War I, McNutt volunteered to join the Army where he was rapidly promoted through the ranks. Like a shooting star, McNutt entered the state government and, in 1933, quickly achieved the governorship of Indiana. Making both friends and...

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