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Grover Cleveland (The American Presidents Series) Hardcover – August 20, 2002

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Grover Cleveland (The American Presidents Series) + Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents Series: The 21st President, 1881-1885 + Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents Series: The 23rd President, 1889-1893
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (August 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805069232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805069235
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brief, excellent volume written for Arthur Schlesinger's American Presidents series, Columbia professor emeritus Graff (The Tuesday Cabinet) picks up the often neglected Grover Cleveland, dusts him off and reminds us how substantial he was. After serving as mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York, Cleveland (1837-1908) was the first Democrat to be elected president after the Civil War. He forced America's railroad titans to return 81,000,000 western acres previously granted by the federal government and regulated them with the Interstate Commerce Act. Although defeated in the electoral college by Benjamin Harrison in 1888, Cleveland won the popular vote, which set the stage for his return to the presidency in 1892 in the midst of nationwide depression. As usual, Cleveland acted decisively. He repealed the inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury's gold reserve. When Chicago railroad strikers violated an injunction against further disruption, Cleveland dispatched federal troops. Cleveland's no-nonsense treatment of the strikers stirred many Americans, as did the way he forced Great Britain to accept arbitration of a disputed boundary in Venezuela. But many of Cleveland's hard-hitting policies during the depression proved unpopular in the long term; in 1896, his party nominated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. In clean, matter-of-fact prose, Graff sums up the plainspoken Cleveland as a man of action and uncompromising integrity a man who, though publicly identified as the father of a bastard child, nevertheless restored dignity to the office of the president in the wake of several weak administrations.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

As part of the "American Presidents" series under the editorial direction of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., distinguished historian Graff (America: The Glorious Republic, to 1877) offers new insight into a President who is often overlooked. Best known as the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms, Cleveland does indeed deserve Graff's fresh examination. The 1888 Presidential election was marked by one of the earliest and most virulent attacks on the personal behavior of a candidate when Cleveland was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. But the candidate took full responsibility for the child (an act Graff refers to as "the gold standard" for such circumstances), and in the end the incident did not cause Cleveland to lose the election. Graff's examination of the 1888 election is one of the finest short reviews of that peculiar race available. Cleveland had a narrow view of the President's powers and did not exert the more expansive leadership that would characterize later Presidents. But he was an able administrator and pursued a clean-government agenda. This slim volume is a valuable addition to the literature on the Presidency and is a compelling argument for taking Cleveland seriously as a President. For political collections of public libraries.
Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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As Graff, the author of this volume, puts it, "Grover Cleveland is the best Unknown President."
Robert Moore
I own and have read this book and like all the books in this series they are informative and entertaining.
George Sandlin
I would recommend this book to people wha are interested in the history of the American presidencies.
phyllis maywhort

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want great detail on the presidents, this book series, "The American Presidents," will not be for you. If, however, you would like to get better introduced to some of the Presidents with some quick reads, this series could be very attractive. "Grover Cleveland," written by Henry Graff, is one book in the series. At the outset, I will say that this is a nice introduction to Grover Cleveland; if you want lots of detail, though, this book will not be for you.

That said, this is up to the usual dependable quality of works in this series. The book begins by placing the Cleveland family in context (e.g., I had never guessed that one of Cleveland's predecessors was a founder of Cleveland, Ohio, after whom the city was named!). The story of Cleveland's political career began in earnest when he served as Mayor of Buffalo, NY. This served as a launching point for his accession as Governor of New York. In the latter role, he distinguished himself as a "reformer."

After that, as a result of a confluence of events, he was nominated for President as a Democrat. While running for office (not that candidates did much in the way of campaigning), it came out that Cleveland may have fathered a child out of wedlock. Indicative of Cleveland's reputation, when asked what his "handlers" should do, he said, "Tell the truth." Rather refreshing!

Once elected, he served as a competent president, with some accomplishments in his first term. He was defeated when he ran for re-election, with Benjamin Harrison ousting him from office. However, four years later, he was re-elected to serve the White House. There were many challenges in his second term, some beyond his control. There was also the medical problem that was kept from public eye.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This short book is part of "The American Presidents" series edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The series devotes a short volume to the life and accomplishments of each American President. The books in the series can be read quickly, and each gives the reader an overview of the life and accomplishments of an important American figure. It is a worthy goal to encourage people to get a working understanding of our presidents and part of an attempt to reeducate Americans about their country and government. The series, Schelsinger states in his introductory note, will "give readers some understanding of the pitfalls and potentialities of the presidency and also of the responsiblities of citizenship".
Professor Graff's short study of the life of Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) fulfills the aim of the series. The book consists of a brief biography of Cleveland and covers his youth, his public (and some of his private) life before he became president, his two presidencies, and his life in retirement. The accomplishments of each of his two terms are summarized, if briefly.
As do most writers who have studied Cleveland, Professor Graff finds his strength in his integrity and common sense. He was able to persuade his fellow Americans, both before and during his presidency of his honesty. Cleveland was a President without charisma and an uninspiring public speaker. He regretted his entire life his lack of a college education, and his career shows something of a discomfort with new ideas or new approaches. Yet, he was able to turn these traits, together with his own strengths into advantages. He proved a capable and inspiring President.
Professor Graff does not engage in hero-worship. If anything, I thought that he somewhat undervalued Cleveland and his accomplishment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on November 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book describes the life and character of Grover Cleveland - and addresses the latter more clearly than the former. Cleveland comes across as uninspiring, but absolutely honest. He was such a workaholic that he refused to attend baseball games during the Presidency, thinking it a waste of the people's time. While Cleveland was President, there was no White House staff to speak of; he spent much of his time meeting with job seekers, and held regular office hours for the citizenry. He lost the 1888 election in part because he did not consider campaigning for the office to be part of his job description. In short, there was nothing modern about Grover Cleveland.

Graff also adequately explains Cleveland's sex scandal (in which he was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock; he supported the child, but paternity was unclear) and his three elections.

However, Graff fails to explain the 1893 depression which has tainted Cleveland's reputation. What did Cleveland fail to do, and how serious were these mistakes? Did the depression cure itself, and if so how? All these questions glide past Graff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I usually enjoy the books in this series as concise but informative introductions to the presidents. This particular volume, in my mind, isn't quite as good as some of the others. It certainly presents a number of very interesting vignettes of the historical and social context in which President Cleveland lived, but the book at times seems to be more about everything but President Cleveland. There are long sections that detail other players and groups from some of the nomination and electoral proceedings and the sections on his two administrations seem kind of sparse when it comes to his relationship to some of the issues and events of the day. I found the book fascinating in the sense that it breaks through the general view of the "good old days" many Americans have of this time period to describe some of the turmoil and human actors of the time. However, I'm not sure I came away knowing as much about President Cleveland as I would have liked. The author concludes that this president deserves historical respect because he was a symbol of integrity and honesty in a time of questionable politics, but it's hard to get a grasp on where President Cleveland would fall in terms of today's political views. I would recommend this book, if for no other reason than the fact that most people probably haven't read a lot about this time period or this president. President Cleveland's administration fell between the end of the Civil War and the coming of interesting inventions like electricity and telephones on the one hand and famous events such as the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish American War and the Panama Canal on the other hand. Like all of the volumes in this series, this one is short so it is probably not a bad place to start.
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