The American Scholar

The Loyal Opposition

THE IMPROBABLE WENDELL WILLKIE: The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order

BY DAVID LEVERING LEWIS

Liveright, 400 pp., $28.95

FAILED PRESIDENTIAL candidates are usually relegated to biographical purgatory, with the lion’s share of historical attention reserved for the victors. Happily, an exception is this superb, long-awaited portrait of Wendell Willkie by David Levering Lewis, a professor of history at New York University and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his multivolume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois. Now is an ideal moment for us to consider Willkie, who, as the Republican presidential nominee in 1940, courageously broke with his party’s isolationists and its advocates of “America First,” helping to unite the country before it entered World War II and to adopt a new form of internationalism when it was over. In the process, he provided a model for the now nearly extinct concepts

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