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An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Imagine my surprise when I discovered this long-awaited biography of our 22nd and 24th president! As a release from the hundreds of redundant titles about Lincoln or Washington that are produced each year, this book provided me an opportunity to visit with a man too many ignore or misunderstand. The author provides a clean, concise account of his life (usually hitting only the high points rather than indulging in endless detail), and provides a fair, balanced description of his presidency. Still, it was most fascinating to read about Cleveland's rapid ascent from obscurity to the White House. Here was a man, who within three years (1881-1884), went from mayor of Buffalo to become a successful presidential candidate against powerful Republican James G. Blaine. As a politician, whether on the local or national level, Cleveland took controversial stands, challenged established members of his party, vetoed popular bills (risking always an override), and revealed private, potentially harmful information in the name of truth an openness. The author by no means paints a picture of perfection (his decisions as president are up for historical debate), but whatever position he took, Cleveland never betrayed his sense of duty and loyalty to the social good. That sense might have been wrong on several occasions (his handling of the 1894 Pullman strike, for example, which pushed the envelope of federal intervention in state matters), but he never compromised out of fear or a desire to cater to party officials. While there are many accounts of Cleveland's happy marriage to Frances (almost thirty years his junior) and their children (one of whom was, in a first, born in the White House), the book is an important contribution primarily because of its reassessment of his political life.Read more ›
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By A Customer on July 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As one who has long admired the life and work of Grover Cleveland and long lamented that he has been largely ignored by modern historians, I welcomed the arrival of this piece. As it turned out, my excitement was tempered by the fact that there is very little new in this work and overall, I found the book thin. The author relies almost entirely on previous compilations and can make no claim to original scholarship. In this sense, it is a much inferior work to the definitive 1932 biography by Allan Nevins. To the extent, however, that Jeffers seeks merely to introduce a mostly unaware public to one of the truly unsung giants of American politics, the book is not without merit.
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Format: Hardcover
H. Paul Jeffers' biography of Grover Cleveland is really a great read. If you're interested in American history, you'll enjoy this book about a fascinating and remarkable figure in U.S. politics who is largely ignored by modern writers. If your knowledge of the American "Gilded Age" is limited to your high school or college classes, you'll do yourself a favor by reading this book. Jeffers does a good job in bringing the era and personalities to life, but his writing of Cleveland's years as president often seems to be merely listing his official schedule of activities. Don't let this criticism dissuade you, however; my test for any book while reading it is "when can I get time to read more?" This book definitely passes the test.
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Format: Paperback
Jeffers provides a painless background on one of the least-remembered Presidents for those who need to fill in the blank spots of their US history timelines. The writing is fluent and the narrative moves quickly. But the book is not for scholars. Important issues of the times, including the Financial Panic of 1893, the free-silver movement, Hawaii and the imperialist impulse, and the growth of organized labor are covered in a few passages or pages. I especially found the discussion of Cleveland's racial attitudes and civil rights policies insufficient; for a President governing during the implementation of Jim Crow, more than a few paragraphs about the issue were warranted. For detailed discussions of those important historical issues, the reader will have to go to more specialized sources.
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Format: Hardcover
H. Paul Jeffers's biography of Grover Cleveland is readable, but I found myself thinking of the famous Walter Mondale phrase, "Where's the Beef?" Checking in at a brief 350 pages, made all the shorter by the interspersion of photographs throughout the text, this book is a good bare bones account of Cleveland's life in which the reader never really gets to know the man. Cleveland is a vastly underrated President, mostly because didn't serve at a time of great national crisis. So the recent interest in him (no less than two biographies published in 2000) is a good thing. Jeffers's book did much to enlighten me, but left me wanting more. I also found a couple of glaring factual errors. Overall, Jeffers's book is a good introduction to its subject, and that's probably all most casual readers will want to know.
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Format: Hardcover
The title of this book might seem an oxymoron to readers whose memories extend no further than the past eight years. It is refreshing to read about a President who put principle before self-advancement, confronted embarrassing revelations about his private conduct with candor, and believed a politician had to "stand for something" in order for an election to be worthwhile.
Cleveland's rise can only be described as meteoric: from Mayor of Buffalo to the New York statehouse within two years, and the White House two years after that. Once in office, he blazed a trail uniquely his own: pro-gold standard, anti-tariff, pro-rule-of-law, anti-government activism.
More than 100 years after the fact, Cleveland's viewpoints are often startling. For example: "the people support the government; the government should not support the people." On the evils of government supluses: "The public treasury . . . becomes a hoarding place for money needlessly withdrawn from trade and the people's use, thus crippling our national energies, suspending our country's development, preventing investment in productive enterprises, inviting schemes of public plunder. It will not do to neglect this situation because its dangers are not now palpably imminent or apparent." Are you listening, Messrs. Bush and Gore?
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