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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read The Book, Rate The President!
The title of "In The Days Of McKinley" is very descriptive. Although it contains much biographical material, it is not a true biography. It does tell much about the stage on which William McKinley played.

McKinley rose to national prominence by becoming an expert on the tariff. In congress he was known as the technical master of customs duties. How he used...
Published on February 13, 2005 by James Gallen

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Not a true biography....
Less than 50 pages are dedicated to Mckinley's childhood, schooling, Civil War days, and his rise in Ohio from a struggling attorney to a Congressman then state gov. The remaining 550 pages deal with the detailed issues of his presidency and some portions (such as several long chapters about Cuba & the Philippines) do not even mention him. Fortunately, his...
Published on June 10, 2003 by J. Carlson


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read The Book, Rate The President!, February 13, 2005
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Days of McKinley (Hardcover)
The title of "In The Days Of McKinley" is very descriptive. Although it contains much biographical material, it is not a true biography. It does tell much about the stage on which William McKinley played.

McKinley rose to national prominence by becoming an expert on the tariff. In congress he was known as the technical master of customs duties. How he used this expertise to propel himself to the post of Governor of Ohio is a puzzlement, but it does reflect the immense importance of tariff policy in an era when elections were fought over protection and when most federal revenue was derived from the tariff.

Much of the book tells the story of aspects of public life in which McKinley participated. A major portion of the book deals with the Spanish American War. Here one sees McKinley among those presidents whose administrations were transformed by events from a domestic focus into one dominated by martial exploits. I have studied much about the Spanish American War (see my Listmania, "Remember The Maine, To Hell With Spain" and my Amazon Reviews, A Ship To Remember, Colonel Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, An Army For Empire and Little Brown Brothers) but this book provides a unique perspective on the war. Here the focus is on the role of the president in the decision to go to war and its subsequent prosecution. On these pages we see the veteran who had learned to hate war being drawn into a war despite all of his efforts to avoid it. In some parts the narration of the war almost makes the reader forget that McKinley was involved. Even so, it places some aspects of the war, such as the exploits of the Rough Riders, into a perspective of the greater conflict which is lacking in some works. With war a reality, the president became actively involved in the need to equip the army, decide on the targets of attack and the peace negotiations. All of these aspects receive ample attention from the author.

With the conclusion of the war, the controversy over the disposition of the captured islands became a focus of public debate and a major issue in the 1900 election. William Jennings Bryan's "mixed messages" to use a recent term, are contrasted to McKinley's consistency. The decision to "Take whatever we can and to keep whatever we want" would have profound implications for the U. S. and the world. McKinley's self image as God's chosen instrument would be echoed in some of his successors.

In an era when vice-presidents were rarely heard, McKinley's first Veep. Garrett Hobart, was a close friend who played a surprisingly important role in the administration, leading its programs through the Senate and carrying out special assignments. With Hobarts' death the selection of a second term running mate became a major event in McKinley's career and, with the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt, in the life of the nation.

Through the chapters of this book, author Margaret Leech gives the reader an excellent study of themes in the history of McKinley's days. In so doing she does not neglect McKinley himself. She shows how he was and remained a product of Nineteenth Century Ohio where he was born and lived his life. She tells of McKinley's service in the Union Army, during which he reached the rank of Major before returning to Ohio to undertake legal studies. Settling in Canton, he rose steadily in his career and in public esteem.

Leech tells the tender love story of McKinley and his wife, Ida, whose neurological disorder would be a constant concern throughout their married life. He learned to cope with her frequent seizures without interrupting the routine of the day, while always placing Ida first in his heart. It is amazing that he accomplished what he did with the limitations imposed by Ida's infirmity. He comes across as a highly successful man who kept his priorities in order.

This book has been described as a first rate book about a second rate president. While you read it you will understand why it made Margaret Leech the first woman to win two Pulitzer prizes. From it I acquired a respect for McKinley as a president who successfully confronted a variety of complex issues. I think that he successfully advanced the interests of his country and followed practices which serve as good models for others. Read it and formulate your own rating of McKinley.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Not a true biography...., June 10, 2003
By 
J. Carlson (Phoenix, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Days of McKinley (Hardcover)
Less than 50 pages are dedicated to Mckinley's childhood, schooling, Civil War days, and his rise in Ohio from a struggling attorney to a Congressman then state gov. The remaining 550 pages deal with the detailed issues of his presidency and some portions (such as several long chapters about Cuba & the Philippines) do not even mention him. Fortunately, his presidency with the various wars, his wife's condition, thru his assination makes this detailed account worthwhile. However, if you are like me & find the struggles of the person before the presidency (especially those with war experience) interesting, you will be somewhat dissappointed in the lack of info. here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer Prize Winner. The Best Book on William McKinley and the Times., November 6, 2011
This review is from: In the Days of McKinley (Hardcover)
This book won the Pulitzer Prize. In the Days of McKinley is the best book about William McKinley and his times. You get a great sense of America that emerged from a frontier country and colonies into an industrial power during his Congressional years and then entered the world stage in foreign policy during his presidency. McKinley was a pro-business and pro-tariff northern Republican. His election campaign against William Jennings Bryant was famous. He was assassinated. The writing is excellent, and the book captures the people, McKinley and the times marvelously. McKinley moved along with the issues of the day and was a pro-business Republican, but he was more moderate in his actions than some would have you believe. He executed the Spanish American War but was not enthusiastic about it. He began early anti-trust actions. He made the mistake of sponsoring sharply higher tariffs in Congress -- key word is sharply -- that led to a Depression, but as president learned from that and was moderate and steady with tariffs. (Key lesson: moderate and steady tariffs seemed to be successful for a long time but not tariffs suddenly raised sharply higher.)

It's all here: the Spanish American War, the tariffs, the Depression of 1893, industrialization, etc. If you are reading through the presidents, interested in McKinley, or interested in the particular issues of that day, such as the Spanish American War, then this enjoyable history of McKinley and his era is for you. Highly recommended!

I have read many books about American presidents and American history. This is the book to read about William McKinley. I also highly recommend the fascinating Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920 as an excellent follow-up book.

The Chicago Sun Times said, "When you finish this book you feel that you have had a memorable experience. Because of the author's narrative skill and pictorial sensibility, you have come to know William McKinley well, have moved through great scenes of our history in the last half of the nineteenth century, and lived the life of the horse and buggy days in the middle west and Washington."

Book of the Month Club said, "Leech is as thorough and illuminating in leading us through the maze of bimetallism and tariff fights and McKinley's public career as she is in handling his private life. Her political panoramas are as excellent as her battle accounts of the Spanish-American war or as her re-creation of McKinley's assassination."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked history of an overlooked President, October 28, 2011
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This review is from: In the Days of McKinley (Hardcover)
Leech does a great job of adding flesh to the historical memory of an overlooked President. McKinley. McKinley is an overlooked President because he was followed by the iconoclast TDR. Thus a work that provides insight into this President who as occupied the historical shadows is a welcomed treat. What Leech;s effort excels in is providing a look at McKinley as an individual. This is great because the other treatments of the man simply look at his record as a president. This book does not and shows how his personal experiences helped to determine the type of politician he would become, and why he was a successful politician. It is not overly scholarly in its approach however, which makes it more accessible for all audiences.
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In the Days of McKinley
In the Days of McKinley by Margaret Leech (Hardcover - November 1, 1999)
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