Book Review: Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times


by Lee A. Craig

Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013. Pp. xx, 474. Illus., notes, biblio, index. $35.00. ISBN: 146960695X

A Forgotten Navalist of the Progressive Era

Josephus Daniels (1865-1948) had a long career in journalism and politics in his native North Carolina and on the national stage served as Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy, yet is today largely forgotten.  

Prof. Craig (NCSU) does an excellent job of fitting Daniels within his times, characterized by political, cultural, and social norms now rather alien to our world view. In his times, Daniels was a reform politician, even progressive for the day, yet also a staunch champion of white supremacy and intervention in “Third World” nations. During his years in the Wilson administration Daniels influenced the development of the Navy (some would argue not always positively), and also befriended and mentored his young assistant secretary, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to whom in later years he served as an unofficial advisor.

Although only about 20 percent of this book deal directly with Daniels’ tour as Secretary of the Navy, they are well done, and will prove very useful for those interested in naval history or in the shaping of FDR’s career.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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