I often get asked why I thought it was worth spending seven years on a biography of a failed president. Here's part of the answer. For those of you unacquainted with him, Herbert Hoover's life in a mid-size paragraph, from my preface:
"A contemporary once described Herbert Hoover as the sort of man “to whom the incredible was forever happening.” Following a tragic childhood in which he was orphaned at the age of nine, he graduated (barely) with the inaugural class at Stanford University, made a name for himself in the rich goldfields of the Australian outback, and, still in his twenties, pulled off the biggest mining transaction in the history of China. The deal closed months after he had been given up for dead in the Boxer Rebellion. Settling later in London at the height of the Edwardian era, he raised a family, established himself as a global mining tycoon, and gained international acclaim as a humanitarian in the early years of the Great War. After almost single-handedly resurrecting the European economy during the Versailles peace talks, he returned to America, where he knew every president from Theodore Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, serving five of them in important roles in addition to fulfilling his own term in the White House. He remained a momentous and controversial figure through the New Deal, the Second World War, and into the Cold War, ending his days chasing bonefish in the Florida Keys and writing books, several at a time, in a luxurious suite in the Waldorf Towers with Cole Porter and the Duke of Windsor for neighbors."