William E. Leuchtenburg’s Herbert Hoover

You will turn in one book journal on William E. Leuchtenburg’s Herbert Hoover. As you read keep a journal organized by chapters of your reactions and responses to the specific incidents and/or interpretations in each chapter. Begin the journal with the Preface or Introduction if applicable; end the journal with the conclusion or epilogue if applicable. Do not simply tell me that you “enjoyed” it or that it was “interesting.” Indeed, avoid those terms. The purpose of the journal is to assure that you comprehend the book, can grapple with the problems that it raises, and to encourage you to think analytically and critically about the author’s ideas and research.

Ask yourself, as you write in the journal, such questions:

Do I agree with the author? Why or why not? What thoughts or ideas does the author stimulate within me? What kinds of arguments does the author advance? Do I agree or disagree? Why or why not? Might one consider the book a cultural, social, political or military history? How does this chapter enhance and/or alter my concept of a particular aspect of history? Does this event or development have any message for our times? What do I think about this or that event or practice? How does this book illustrate, clarify, or otherwise relate to specific topics that you encounter as you read the chapters in The American Promises and thought about the ideas that various scholars advanced in “Transforming America?” These questions are for purposes of illustration; you are not confined to them (I suggest you take them seriously).

Be creative, descriptive, and use a lot of adjectives. As mentioned above, think analytically and critically. Your journals should contain: reactions, responses, questions, thoughts, ideas, illustrations, analysis, criticism, interpretation, and expressions of relevance. You must react to a sufficient amount of each chapter so as to convince the instructor that you not only have read the book, but that you have thought about it.

William E. Leuchtenburg’sHerbert Hoover


Note:  The goal of this assignment is for you to offer your own assessment of Hoover’s public career in American life.  I would hope that you would apply much of the same kind of critical analysis to Hoover’s career that you would apply to any historical figure in past times or our time.


Chapter One:


What do you think about Leuchtenburg’s description of Hoover’s childhood?  Can you identify with him?

What accounts for his success early on in life?

Did he possess any character traits that are unique amongst men?

What do you think about his ability to find a major and a career at Stanford?

Are there any lessons a college student could learn from his success?

What do you think about his success in the mining industry?


Chapter Two:


What do you think about Hoover’s success in providing relief during World War I?

Can Hoover be rightfully described as the “Great Humanitarian?”

What do you think about his style of management and leadership?

Is Hoover the kind of person for whom you would wish to work?

What do you think about his call for private individualism, volunteerism, and private charity as the means to solving problems whilst at the same time depending on government money?


Chapter Three:


What do you think about Hoover’s style of leadership in serving as food tsar?

To what extent was Hoover’s approach to managing food necessary for the country at that time?

What is you impression of him as an individual, as a leader, and as a future candidate for national office after reading this chapter?

To what extent does Hoover’s public service lead you to believe that an individual has both a personal and social responsibility to improve the society in which they live?  


Chapter Four:

What do you think about Hoover’s role as Secretary of Commerce?

How did his skills in the mining industry and previous work in the government shape or otherwise affect his leadership as Secretary of Commerce?

Had you ever heard of this position in the federal government before?  Is it an important one?

What would you consider to have been Hoover’s greatest accomplishments in this capacity?

How was he most effective as a leader in this job?

Why was this position important to Hoover and to the country?


Chapter Five:


What do you think about Hoover’s campaign for the presidency?

Would you have voted for him?

What reasons would you have given for voting for or against Herbert Hoover in 1928?

Why do you think the American people elected Hoover president of the United States?

How qualified was he to be president of the United States?


Chapter Six:


Heretofore, what would you say were Hoover’s greatest accomplishments and failures as president of the United States?

Now that you have arrived at the end of the chapter, what is your assessment of Hoover’s presidency?

How effective would you consider him to have been?


Chapter Seven:


What do you think about Hoover’s response to the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929?

How might he have responded differently?

What would you have done had you been president under the circumstances?

Had you been a citizen at that time, how would you have viewed Hoover’s response?

Considering Hoover’s public life, to what extent was he the most experienced man in America to handle a national crisis like the Great Depression as it unfolded?


Chapter Eight:


What do you think about Hoover’s leadership in the advancement of our foreign policy?

What would you consider to be Hoover’s greatest accomplishments in this field?


Chapter Nine:


What do you think about Hoover’s response to the Great Depression as it unfolded?

What might he have done differently?

What would you have done as the Depression as it unfolded had you been in Hoover’s shoes?

Why is it that a man heretofore so successful in providing relief to starving refugees of Belgium and managing the distribution of American food during the Great War seemed to have great difficulty in confronting the problems of a massive economic catastrophe like the Great Depression?

Why do you think the country turned against Hoover in 1932?

Would you have voted for or against Hoover in the 1932 election?  What reasons would you have given for your decision?

Why do you think most Americans went for Franklin Roosevelt?

How did the two men differ?


Chapter Ten:


What do you think about Hoover’s life after leaving office?

Did he receive recognition publically that he deserved?

How would you have viewed Hoover twenty or thirty years after his presidency?

How does he stack up against presidents you have known in your lifetime?

Lastly, do you think the author has offered a reasonably balanced account of Hoover’s life?






Last Updated on January 25, 2018