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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Less-Discussed Side of Democracy
Each Election Night, the concession speech delivered by the losing presidential nominee is viewed by just about all of us as simply a formality. Even though it seems unthinkable that a losing nominee would not ultimately concede the election, author Scott Farris asserts that these concessions are truly what make democracy work.

In "Almost President," Farris...
Published on December 11, 2011 by Eric Mayforth

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2.0 out of 5 stars First couple chapters are good but it goes downhill from there.
Written from a liberal's perspective. If that's yours, you will enjoy the book.
Published 15 days ago by Bradley A. Crouser


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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Less-Discussed Side of Democracy, December 11, 2011
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This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
Each Election Night, the concession speech delivered by the losing presidential nominee is viewed by just about all of us as simply a formality. Even though it seems unthinkable that a losing nominee would not ultimately concede the election, author Scott Farris asserts that these concessions are truly what make democracy work.

In "Almost President," Farris recalls the careers and contributions to American history that defeated nominees have made. These highly distinguished Americans include Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, Tom Dewey, Barry Goldwater, and others. The brief biological sketches show that many of these figures were on the national stage at some of the most critical times in American history, and many others did much to change their parties, which ultimately changed the country. Farris notes that losing nominees were not always quickly forgotten, but decades ago often assumed the role of spokesmen or titular heads of their parties.

As the author notes, this is a country that disdains second-place finishers and runners-up (think of how many Buffalo Bills jokes there were in the early-to-mid Nineties). Men such as Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bob Dole became punchlines or worse in many quarters following their losses, but it really is no small thing to have gotten the nomination of one of the world's two most important political parties--scores of other politicians have run for president and not gotten their party's nomination.

The author is a staunch liberal, so if you are a conservative there are places in the book where you will definitely disagree with the author's conclusions, but "Almost President" is a fascinating, worthwhile retrospective on those who, even though they did not capture the ultimate prize, still greatly contributed to the American story.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Presidential Losers, December 20, 2011
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Andrew Collins (Litchfield County, Connecticut) - See all my reviews
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In American history, mountains of books have been written about the Presidency and the men who have held that office, while those that seek it, attain the nomination of a major political party, only to lose in the end, have mostly become forgotten. These days who can tell you anything about people such as Horace Greeley or Winfield Scott Hancock? Or even poor Alton Parker who has not been the subject of a single book in the more than 100 years since he lost to Theodore Roosevelt in 1904.

But as Almost President proves, even those that lose can still leave a large impact on American political history. The bulk of the book consists of short biographies of nine men to have been major candidates for President, lost, but still left their mark on political history. Those nine men are: Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Ross Perot. Also included in the final chapter is a look at the three most recent losers: Al Gore, John Kerry, and John McCain.

All in all a pretty interesting look at those figures usually forgotten. The author does have a slight liberal bias (but it is not bad) and sometimes can be rather long-winded on certain things, but those things do not really detract from the overall quality of the book. I would recommend this to those interested in American political history.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply thought out and researched by a veteran politcal journalist and staffer, May 21, 2012
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A. L. Jones (Billings, MT United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
Watched Farris talk about this on C-Span's BOOK-TV for an hour and his book is as engaging and stimulating. Irving Stone tackled this topic many decades ago looking at the losing candidate in each Presidential race in "They Also Ran". What Farris has done is look at the candidates who lost and in dealing with that loss, substantially changed American politics for decades or centuries plus. Whether it's Henry Clay creating the two party system, William Jennings Bryan turning the Democratic party from hidebound conservatives to a very progressive agenda or Barry Goldwater's steering the rise of the Republican Conservative movement, Farris has focused on the truly significant instead of the trivialities that fill so much political reporting. It's inspiring stuff showing men who reached for but never gained the Presidency (ones who lost but eventually won the office aren't included in Farris's book) but went on to do major things for their country rather than fled the battlefield never to be seen or heard from again. It would be a great supplementary reading for any high school or college American history or political science course, but it's so enjoyable to read it doesn't take being assigned to zip through it (so many surprises that "what happened next?" is quite propelling.)

Deeply considered, long researched, and written by someone who has covered political races, run races and advised Governors and Congressmen, and even run for Congress himself, Farris brings a particularly rich and varied background to the analysis that really makes this a special book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lasting impact of losing presidential candidates, April 20, 2012
This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
The premise of this book is that a presidential candidate who loses the election can still make a lasting impact on politics. The author supports this premise with the stories of some of our greatest political figures, including Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas. Some of the book may offend the sensibilities of those who are committed to one end of the political spectrum (left or right) and who do not want to hear positive or negative things about controversial figures like Goldwater and McGovern. But it is undeniable that many of these men made this country what it is today and/or made our political parties what they are today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So close, and yet so far, January 20, 2013
By 
Marcus A. Lewis (South El Monte, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
I first became fascinated with books on the presidency after reading "The Presidents Club" in June last year. My reading led me to this book by Scott Farris. Beginning with Henry Clay through John McCain, this book is all about the men that ran for president, but lost. There is so much history that I didn't know about. This is a great book, and very accessible.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep you intrested, April 17, 2012
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I am into history, American history, I enjoyed the early chapters Clay, Douglas, and Williams. This books gets a little slow in chapters five and six; but quickly picks up in chapter eight till the last page. I don't have a degree in political science or a degree in anything but I do read a lot, and I did enjoy this book very well.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth while read, March 16, 2012
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I always knew that any candidate for President must be an accomplished politician. However, in our society we tend to think of the candidate that didn't win as a loser. This book shows how influential these " losing candidates " were in how our country was shaped and governed. I recommend this book to all people that like to learn and be informed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tour of history and the impact of those who lost the ultimate political position., March 15, 2013
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Onpension (washington, dc) - See all my reviews
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Excellent book. Well writen and concise. Eye opening on the impact of "losers" and their impact on the future of the country. Especially pertinent when discussing Barry Goldwaters influence on the Republican party. Reveals the race based approach of the party since the 60's and the result on American culture.

Great, but brief, discussion on some recent losers and the possibility of change that they have introduced.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR CIVICS CLASS, May 11, 2013
By 
Stringman (Pace, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
The material presented in this book gives the reader important insights into the development of the American political process. One is "educated" as to the evolution of the U.S. electoral process and the introduction and maturation of the present positions of the two major political parties as well as being introducer (or re-introduced) to men who played significant roles in making America what it is today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What great History lessons!, July 9, 2012
This review is from: Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Hardcover)
I spend most of my time reading history of our former Presidents.

I am really glad I spent the time reading "Almost President" and caught up on the stories that preceded or followed their defeats. For the most part each candidate featured, especially those before the 1980's makes you appreciate what unique part they played in our country's history. Kind of surprising. Worth the history lesson.
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Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation
Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation by Scott Farris (Hardcover - December 6, 2011)
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