GEOFFREY COWAN - Let the People Rule


Thursday, February 9th at 7pm

speaking & signing
Let the People Rule

In Conversation With:
Douglas Brinkley

In the contentious presidential race of 1912, former President Teddy Roosevelt came out of retirement to challenge his successor, William Taft, championing a primary system that would let the people choose their candidates. Geoffry Cowan expertly unravels the drama behind the history in his new book Let the People Rule and will be here tonight for a talk and signing! 


The exhilarating, prescient story of the four-month campaign that changed American politics forever.

Let the People Rule tells the exhilarating story of the four-month campaign that changed American politics forever. In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt came out of retirement to challenge his close friend and handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, for the Republican Party nomination. To overcome the power of the incumbent, TR seized on the idea of presidential primaries, telling bosses everywhere to “Let the People Rule.” The cheers and jeers of rowdy supporters and detractors echo from Geoffrey Cowan’s pages as he explores TR’s fight-to-the-finish battle to win popular support. After sweeping nine out of thirteen primaries, he felt entitled to the nomination. But the party bosses proved too powerful, leading Roosevelt to walk out of the convention and create a new political party of his own.

Using a trove of newly discovered documents, Cowan takes readers inside the colorful, dramatic, and often mean-spirited campaign, describing the political machinations and intrigue and painting indelible portraits of its larger-than-life characters. But Cowan also exposes the more unsavory parts of TR’s campaign: seamy backroom deals, bribes made in TR’s name during the Republican Convention, and then the shocking political calculation that led TR to ban any black delegates from the Deep South from his new “Bull Moose Party.”

In this utterly compelling work, Cowan illuminates lessons of the past that have great resonance for American politics today.


Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership at the University of Southern California, is the best-selling author of The People v. Clarence Darrow. For his role in dramatically increasing the number of presidential primaries in 1968, ABC Television News called him "the man who did more to change Democratic Conventions than anyone since Andrew Jackson started them."


Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at both Vanity Fair and Audubon. His bestselling books include CronkiteThe Quiet World, and The Wilderness Warrior. Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He lives in Austin with his wife and three children.

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Thank you for supporting Geoff Cowan and your local independent bookstore!
Event date: 
Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393353693
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 17th, 2017

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