Book Review: The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding

Ryan S. Walters

Available February 15 2022. The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding, Ryan S. Walters. ISBN: 978-1621578840 (Hardcover). Regnery History

Washington D.C.–The 29th President of the United States is rarely left off a “Worst Presidents” list.  Historians and political figures have described President Warren G. Harding as “Dead Last,” “Unfit,” “Inept,” “Shallow,” “An Amiable Fool,” and a “Notorious Womanizer.” If he is even remembered at al, it is for a legacy marred by scandal, failure, and depression.  A century after the Harding Presidency, historians are still debating the facts of the matter. In The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding, Ryan S. Walters sets the record straight in this monumental comprehensive biography of the most maligned president in U.S. history. He offers readers a fresh and honest look at Warren Harding and his presidency and proves he was truly “a representative of American character and produce of American Life.”

“Presidents are ranked wrong. In The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding, Ryan Walters mounts a case that Harding deserves to move up—and supplies the evidence to make that case strong. -Amity Shlaes, bestselling author of Coolidge

He’s the butt of political jokes, frequently subjected to ridicule, and almost never absent a “Worst Presidents” list where he most often ends up at the bottom. Historians have labeled him the “Worst President Ever,” “Dead Last,” “Unfit,” and “Incompetent,” to name but a few. Many contemporaries were equally cruel. H. L. Mencken called him a “nitwit.” To Alice Roosevelt Longworth, he was a “slob.” Such is the current reputation of our 29th President, Warren Gamaliel Harding. In an interesting survey in 1982, which divided the scholarly respondents into “conservative” and “liberal” categories, both groups picked Harding as the worst President.

But historian Ryan Walters shows that Harding, a humble man from Marion, Ohio, has been unfairly remembered. He quickly fixed an economy in depression and started the boom of the Roaring Twenties, healed a nation in the throes of social disruption, and reversed America’s interventionist foreign policy.

The lessons we can learn from American history professor and author Ryan Walters are:

  • How Harding reversed America’s interventionist foreign policy and championed an America First Approach to international relations.
  • How he quickly fixed an economy in depression and started the boom of the Roaring Twenties.
  • How he healed a nation in the throes of social disruption, including violent racial unrest.
  • How he was a deeply conservative, likeable, and successful president who healed the nation during a time of great need.

About the author: Ryan S. Walters is an independent historian, teaches history at Collin College and is the author of Grover Cleveland The last Jeffersonian President and Remember Mississippi: How Chris McDaniel Exposed the GOP Establishment and Started a Revolution. He lives in North Texas with his wife Candice.


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  1. harding was a great american president when you look at the things he accomplished for the country during his short presidency. what gets him low rankings is his personal life. he had a long time affair with the wife of his best friend. he also had an affair with the 16 year old daughter of another friend who gave birth to his child and wrote a book about it. he once gambled away a jefferson era set of fine china in a poker game. his friends really caused him lots of grief as well. he once said: I can handle my enemy’s in a fight. but my friends, my god damn friends keep me walking the floor at night ! after his death, his wife burned all of his paperwork before any of it could be examined. Harding has long been my favorite president, i will be checking this book out….

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