From The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Cowan brings fresh depth and breadth to this sordid tale. Thus do we see, through his research and deft storytelling, how reform movements are often encased in self-interested cant.
– Robert Berry, “Taming the Wild Beast of Populism“
From The Telegraph
In his excellent new book, Cowan explains how in 1912, former president Teddy Roosevelt invented the presidential primary system as a way of trying to wrest the Republican nomination from the sitting president William Howard Taft. Cowan’s book is so replete with historical echoes that it reminds one that although history doesn’t repeat itself, it sometimes does rhyme.
From The Boston Globe
The 1912 convention in Chicago was chaos from beginning to end, and Cowan skillfully leads the reader through the complicated, hour-by-hour machinations. [A] timely and enjoyable new book.
From The Washington Post
Cowan’s tale is packed with such vignettes, portraying a pre-radio, pre-television, pre-Internet time when politics was conducted face to face. Cowan’s Roosevelt slashes the air with his right hand while making key points; he clips his words with a speaking style that one contemporary likened to biting off tenpenny nails. This Roosevelt was also capable of turning on a dime without conceding that he had gone anywhere but straight. “Let the people rule,” Roosevelt declared, but he didn’t mean all the people all the time. Cowan tells his story with great verve.
– H.W. Brands, “Why party bosses can’t contain Trump“
From The New York Times
There has been a great deal written about Roosevelt. By focusing on the 1912 primaries, Cowan brings new insight to a well-worn story. Cowan paints an admirably nuanced picture of Roosevelt, exposing the hypocrisy of his call to ‘let the people rule.’
– Ari Berman, “‘Let the People Rule’ by Geoffrey Cowan“
From New Hampshire’s Union Leader
Cowan’s recounting of [Roosevelt and Taft] competing in several primaries is a great read.
From TIME Magazine
[The start of the primary system] is a complicated story that Cowan keeps lively…Cowan renders [Theodore Roosevelt’s] charisma palpable.
From The National Book Review
In Let the People Rule, Geoffrey Cowan provides a riveting account of the birth of primaries during the 1912 GOP race. With the shelves of books that have been written on Roosevelt, Cowan deserves praise for unearthing new – and sometimes unsavory – details about TR’s political career. Cowan’s valuable book is a reminder that while the primaries are certainly an improvement over the convention-controlled selection process they displaced, they still have a long way to go if they are going to fulfill their original promise of letting the people rule.
From Kirkus Reviews
Brings to life the wheeler-dealers, back-alley shenanigans, and political intrigue embedded within this legislative saga…. Political junkies will delight in this rollicking history containing lessons applicable to our contemporary political landscape.
– Kirkus Reviews, “Let the People Rule“
From Library Journal
This lively, deeply researched narrative, which takes readers from primary season through the convention, and to Roosevelt and his supporters bolting to form the upstart, progressive Bull Moose Party. Cowan is at his best when revealing Roosevelt’s cynical manipulation of black voters, who were encouraged to become Bull Moosers in the North but were forbidden to become convention delegates if they lived in the Jim Crow South. Both general readers and historians will enjoy the book’s you-are-there feel because of Cowan’s excellent use of primary documents.
From Publishers Weekly
Cowan writes…this timely, engaging story…with a Rooseveltian verve.
– Publisher’s Weekly, “Let the People Rule“
From Pasadena Weekly
[A] powerful new book…[that] paints a colorful and complex, yet ultimately ignominious portrait of the Rough Rider.
– Justin Chapman, “‘Primary Lessons’“
From the Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal
Every once in a while, one’s seamless immersion in a good read is intermingled with a rising realization: the author was born to write this book. So it is with Geoffrey Cowan and his memorable book on the 1912 presidential campaign.
– James Strock, Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal (Volume XXXVII, Number 4, Fall 2016)
From Presidential Studies Quarterly
[LTPR] is highly engaging, with a host of compelling characters engaged in great political drama. This book should appeal to scholars of the presidency, American political development, and elections and voting, as well as to those with a casual interest in political history.
– Graham G. Dodds, Presidential Studies Quarterly
From Presidential Studies Quarterly
This is a great history book…Cowan does such a good job of telling the story of what happened when Theodore Roosevelt tried to win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party in 1912.
Stephen Tootle, Presidential Studies Quarterly (March, 2017)
From the Political Studies Review
Geoffrey Cowan walks us through the events [of the 1912 election] with mesmerizing detail. LTPR is a riveting tick-tock of the 1912 Republican nomination…and it also paints a provocative portrait of Roosevelt in his post-presidency period.
– Charles Aull, Political Studies Review, May 2017
From Henry Louis Gates, JR., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
A suspenseful narrative, replete with larger-than-life personalities, and a must-read backstory for anyone concerned with the history and fate of a democracy that, at its best, aims to ‘Let the People Rule.’
– Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
From Adam Hochschild, Author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
You wouldn’t think that there would be anything new to say about Theodore Roosevelt by now. But Geoffrey Cowan has brought to life a fascinating part of TR’s story usually left out of the history books. He tells it with verve and suspense, warts and all, his insights deepened by his own impressive background as a democracy activist.
– Adam Hochschild
From Evan Thomas, Author of Being Nixon and Robert Kennedy
Cowan has written a rich, eye-popping political history. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive hero, but he could play as rough as today’s most cynically expedient politicians.
– Evan Thomas
From Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University
Rips the lid off of the 1912 presidential election. Cowan brilliantly illuminates everything from the birth of the political primary system to the disenfranchisement of African Americans to egos writ large. The narrative has a marvelous flow and the research is superb.
– Douglas Brinkley
From Ronald Brownstein, Editorial Director for Strategic Partnerships, Atlantic Media
Cowan has brilliantly re-created a pivotal moment in American political history…brought vividly to life through dogged and creative research and graceful storytelling. Political junkies across America are buckling in for another tumultuous primary season in 2016—and they couldn’t find a better way to prepare than to devour this rollicking and remarkably current tale of how it all began, over a century ago.
– Ronald Brownstein
From Lewis L. Gould, Author of The Republications: A History of the Grand Old Party
A fresh and perceptive look… Based on extensive research in original sources,Let the People Rule laces striking information on TR’s race against President Taft with new insights and a fresh and important analysis. Let the People Rule is the book to read on Roosevelt’s pivotal year.
– Lewis L. Gould
From Byron E. Shafer, Hawkins Chair of Political Science, University of Wisconsin
For those of us who believe that modern American politics began at the turn of the twentieth and not the twenty-first century, Geoff Cowan has produced a fresh contribution to the argument. The modern mechanics of presidential selection, the rise of candidacies largely independent of party, and the mobilization of autonomous supporters: all come to life in Let the People Rule.
– Byron E. Shafer