In The Crusade Years, Nash Brings to Life a Riveting Historical Memoir by President Herbert Hoover

Monday, December 2, 2013
The Crusade Years, 1933–1955: Herbert Hoover’s Lost Memoir of the New Deal Era a
The Crusade Years, 1933–1955: Herbert Hoover’s Lost Memoir of the New Deal Era a

The Hoover Institution Press released The Crusade Years--a never-before-published parallel volume to Herbert Hoover’s Freedom Betrayed from the Hoover Institution Archives–edited by historian George H. Nash.  This work recounts Hoover’s postpresidential family life, his myriad philanthropic interests, and his “crusade against collectivism” after he left the White House.

Covering an eventful period in Herbert Hoover’s career, The Crusade Years is a previously unknown memoir that Hoover composed and revised during the 1940s and 1950s—and then, surprisingly, set aside. The Crusade Years invites the reader to reflect on the factors that made possible his extraordinarily fruitful later years. It also raises crucial issues of political and economic philosophy that continue to be debated to this day.

Although he left the presidency in 1933 a virtual pariah, maligned and hated, he rose from the ashes of his political downfall, shining brightly through the final phase of his career as a former president. For thirty-one-and-one-half years, in fair political weather and foul, the former chief executive became a crusader: a tireless and visible castigator of the dominant political trends of his day.

This volume is the “missing link” in Hoover’s memoirs: the final brick in a literary edifice that he began building nearly seventy-five years ago. As this book illustrates, Herbert Hoover was no ordinary man. Of all the individuals who have served as president of the United States, none has ever written a set of memoirs as prodigious as his.  Rescued from obscurity, this nearly forgotten manuscript is being made available to scholars for the first time.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) served as president of the United States from 1929 to 1933. A graduate of Stanford University, a distinguished mining engineer, and an internationally acclaimed humanitarian, he was the author of more than thirty books. In 1919 he founded what became known as the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.

George H. Nash is a historian, lecturer, and authority on the life of Herbert Hoover. His publications include three volumes of a definitive, scholarly biography of Hoover and the monograph Herbert Hoover and Stanford University. He edited Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its  Aftermath. Nash is also the author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945 and Reappraising the Right: The Past and Future of American Conservatism. A graduate of Amherst College and holder of a PhD in history from Harvard University, he received the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters in 2008.  He lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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“Superbly introduced and edited by acclaimed Herbert Hoover biographer George H. Nash, The Crusade Years is far more than a simple apologia pro vita sua. It offers touching glimpses into Hoover’s rich personal life and a trenchant critique of the post–New Deal American social contract that amounts to nothing less than the cornerstone of modern conservatism. By turns intimate, humorous, and combative—even occasionally petulant—this last volume of Hoover’s memoirs will interest historians and general readers alike.” —David Kennedy is a professor of history emeritus at Stanford University and the author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945.

“Herbert Hoover, self-styled crusader, is in full flower in these pages—part memoirist, part polemicist, coupling intimate portraiture with a public history that is profoundly relevant. Once again George Nash demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Hoover, while assembling the former president's intellectual brief against the New Deal in a style that is both highly readable and faithful to its author’s sometimes quirky standards. Together with its companion volume, Freedom Betrayed, The Crusade Years completes at last the sprawling work of revisionism Hoover called ‘my Roosevelt book.’ It is, in fact, much more than that. It is hard to imagine any comprehensive account of those tumultuous years that fails to incorporate the evidence compiled by Hoover and made accessible to modern Americans by his foremost interpreter.”—Richard Norton Smith is a presidential historian and author, former director of several presidential libraries, and current scholar-in-residence at George Mason University.

“George Nash, always the curious academic detective, has discovered and published the private thoughts of Hoover on the New Deal. This excellent memoir edition reminds us that Hoover (1) was the chief original crusader against New Deal collectivism, (2) argued that the New Deal could be rolled back, and (3) showed what it took to be the first activist ex-president in American politics. Well done, very timely, and with a helpful introduction.” —Gordon Lloyd is a professor of public policy at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University.

“With unparalleled and meticulous scholarship, editor George Nash reveals the Herbert Hoover we never knew: the prophet. It is striking how powerful Hoover’s warnings against statist progressivism remain—how easily these pages could be turned into blogposts as conservatives battle ‘progressives’ in our own day.” —Amity Shlaes is the author of Coolidge and The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Depression

“The Crusade Years fills a crucial gap in the literary legacy left by our thirty-first president in the years after he left the White House.  Another important piece of the Hoover puzzle, it complements Freedom Betrayed, posthumously plugging gaps in domestic policy as the earlier book did for foreign policy. Beyond the political wars, it illuminates the human side of Hoover: his family and hobbies, love of fishing, of people, and of his alma mater. The orphan’s heart also lingered long over the plight of America’s children, demonstrated by his contributions to the Boys’ Clubs of America. Editor George H. Nash provides an introductory analysis of Hoover’s life, establishes the historical context for the evolution of the manuscript, and elucidates Hoover’s motives and methodology. This long-delayed, scrupulously edited book is essential to understanding our most active and tenacious ex-president, a cornerstone in the written legacy compiled by this prolific statesman and his most indefatigable historian.” —Glen Jeansonne is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and author of The Life of Herbert Hoover: Fighting Quaker, 1928–1933.

Through tenacious and persistent scholarship coupled with artful editing, George H. Nash, the dean of Hoover scholars, has admirably reconstructed Hoover’s last literary effort, a missing link long unknown to scholars. In The Crusade Years the guarded, enigmatic ex-president candidly discusses his personal and family life and clearly articulates his objections to collectivism while forcefully arguing for a realist political philosophy based on individualism and volunteerism. The Crusade Years establishes Hoover as one of the preeminent political thinkers of the last century, a man who developed a ‘political yardstick’ useful in analyzing today’s topsy-turvy politics.” —Hal Elliott Wert is a professor of history at the Kansas City Art Institute and author of Hoover, the Fishing President: Portrait of the Private Man and His Life Outdoors.

“For many years Herbert Hoover worked on a memoir of his postpresidential years, almost until his death at ninety. Now George Nash, the premier historian of American conservatism, has unearthed this vast work from the Hoover Institution Archives and has edited it for publication. Nash has also provided an illuminating introduction to this fine contribution to the historical record.” —Michael Barone is senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics.

“Herbert Hoover’s life, despite his difficult presidency, was followed by his many humanitarian works.  After World War II, he worked to provide food for the new Germany. Hoover helped provide 40,000 tons of food for more than three million children. Few people, both before and after his presidency, have done more to help so many people.” —Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins Professor of History and provost emeritus at Columbia University and author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century.