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The Messianic Style

by Michael Knox Beran
Wilson, by A. Scott Berg (Putnam, 832 pp., $40)

The chapter titles in A. Scott Berg’s life of Woodrow Wilson — “Advent,” “Baptism,” “Isaiah,” “Paul,” “Ascension,” “Resurrection,” to name a few — are, when coupled with the Biblical epigraphs, as revealing as anything in the book. The chapter on the Paris Peace Conference is called “Gethsemane.” It is followed by “Passion,” in which the hero breaks down in his attempt to rally the country to the Treaty of Versailles, and “Pietà,” with its epigraph from John 19:40. (“Then tooke they the body of Iesus, & wound it in linnen clothes . . .”)

Curiously, there is no chapter on “Judas,” possibly because Wilson had so many betrayers — from Bryan and Lansing to Tumulty and Colonel House. Notable, too, is the absence of a chapter on “Satan,” devoted to the diablerie of Henry Cabot Lodge, which would have made the book’s symbolical architecture complete.

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