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James K. Polk: A Political Biography to the Prelude to War 1795-1845 Hardcover – April 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0945707097 ISBN-10: 0945707096 Edition: 0th

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James K. Polk: A Political Biography to the Prelude to War 1795-1845 + James K. Polk: A Political Biography to the End of a Career 1845-1849
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: American Political Biography Press (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945707096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945707097
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,428,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By W. Martin Jones on May 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For years I've been convinced that James K. Polk was one of our country's most effective presidents and most successful. After reading the two volumes by Eugene I. McCormac, I'm more convinced than ever. I rank Polk as one of the top six (6) presidents this country has ever had. He stated what he wanted emphatically, he fought hard to get them accomplished and in the long run, they were good for the country. It's so sad that his accomplishments were overshadowed by the pending slavery question and his own lack of charisma. Yet, he was great and I rank him along with Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln & Truman. Others would disagree I'm sure, but I believe I'm right. Thanks, McCormac, for such two fine volumes on such a great statesman. Peahillfm@aol.com
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Wheeler on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Over the last couple of years, using Amazon reviewers as my guides, I've read more than 25 presidential biographies. Usually, I've been able to find at least one thorough and well written biography. I looked forward to McCormac's two volume biography of James Polk. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. Written in 1922 and described as a political biography, its style is certainly passe. McCormac is concerned only with Polk the politician. Although he presents this side of Polk's life very thoroughly, the rest of the story is ignored. His wife who was a strong influence in his life merits only two sentences. Although Polk owned many slaves, this is mentioned only in passing. I never learned if he had children. A modern biographer would certainly blend his private life into the narrative in an effort to understand the man more thoroughly.

Polk does emerge as one of our best presidents - certainly in the nearly great category. He set four goals - completing the annexation of Texas (and California), satisfactorily resolving the Oregon border dispute with England while avoiding war, lowering the tariff, and establishing a sub treasury rather than a national bank. He accomplished each goal despite severe opposition from the Whigs and members of his own party. He was a skilled and patient negotiator who used his cabinet well but who also kept his own counsel. A fifth unstated goal was to avoid letting the slavery question overwhelm the above issues. Polk managed to do this, but by the end of his presidency it is clear the issue could no longer be avoided.

I can't recommend this biography, and unfortunately I don't know of any other biographies of Polk that consider the whole man and are presented in sufficient detail. McCormac's writing is often tedious.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a previous reviewer has noted, the writing style in this book can be somewhat tedious; that cost it one star in my rating, and is why I can't rate it a full five stars. Also, it would have been nice to see a more thorough full-life biography; again as the previous reviwer noted, it would have been nice, after 370 pages, to have SOME idea of Polk's family. But since I am unable to recommend any other biography that accomplishes what this one does, and covers that side of the man as well, it's the best available and that is why I keep the rating at four stars rather than dropping it to three.

And in terms of what it DOES cover, it is VERY thorough, and accomplishes one thing that is essential to a good biography: it presents the information clearly and openly enough that it is possible for the reader to come to a different opinion of the subject than what is held by the writer. Certainly, knowing more about Polk now than I did before beginning this bio, I am more aware of his positive qualities than I was before, but his flaws have not been glossed over, and as I place more weight on them than the writer does, (granted, some of this relates to the second volume, which I am not finished with yet) I have a somewhat lower opinion of Polk than he does. This is the mark of a fine biography: it provides enough information for the reader to make up his or her own mind.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THIS IS A GREAT BOOK DEALING WITH PRESIDENT POLKS EARLY YEARS. HE IS SOMEONE WHO IS ALL BUT FORGOTTEN IN THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY AND SHOULD BE RECOVERED FOR ALL HE DID. HIS WAS NOT A PERFECT LIFE, BUT HE CONTRIBUTED MORE TO MAKE AMERICA WHAT IT IS TODAY THAN ANY OTHER PRESIDENT BETWEEN JACKSON AND LINCOLN. A MUST READ FOR ALL STUDENTS OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY
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