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Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series: The 8th President, 1837-1841 Hardcover – December 9, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
As a conservative who believed in the supremacy of states' rights over federal intervention, President Van Buren played a minimum role in the depression of 1837 or the disputes over slavery. He was a politician who did not led and lost the 1840 election as a result.
This brief book (200+ pages) has the refreshing advantage of being written by a political operative (Mr. Widmer was a member of the Clinton Admnistration) who understands the practice of politics. It is well-written and to the point. However this is not the definitive biography of Martin Van Buren -- for that honor, the reader is directed to the 700+ pages biography by John Niven (1983).
It's not the subject. It's Mr. Widmer's flippant, "terminally hip", straight-out-of-People-Magaine, style of writing.
What do I mean? Well, the first thing that struck me was that though the book is not very long -- which given the fairly obscure subject matter is understandable -- the rambling intro to this work IS long. We're talking someting like twenty+ pages!
I kept reading page after page after page of the intro and found myself wondering "Ok. So where's the actually book??" I mean, was the author getting paid by the word or something?
And the work itself...again, "flippant" is the work that pretty much sums it up. Ex-president Bill Clinton was mentioned more than once, as well as BC and his intern Monica L. were also mention (in a book about Martin Van Buren?), The sainted (to Mr. Widmer) FDR is also mentioned several times, likewise Hollywood's Steven Spielburg and TV-producer Aaron Spelling... yeah, I know. In about about Martin Van Buren?? But then, I just said these folks were mentioned in Mr. Widmer's book. I didn't say that had any thing to DO with the subject of the book.
In addition, there were terrible gaps/unresolved events in VB life that the writer skipped over. For example: The young VB, an up and coming legal eagle, goes to NYC and there hones his legal skills + moves in very lofty circles + became close friends of titans like Aaron Burr, etc., and then, we are told, that after 6 years of this that VB up and left NYC to become a law partner with this step-brother in some little town in upstate NY. The end. Huh??Read more ›
This book had alot of gaps in it. It kept saying that he was an up and coming star and that he was a political mastermind, but it never once said why he was a star and what manuevers he made to make him a mastermind.
I agree with the other reviewer about Bill Clinton. This was supposed to be a book about the 8th president not the 42nd. I found the constant refrences to Bill Clinton to be out of place. I guess that the author was drawing on his own experience with a president.
The only reason that I bought this book is that it is a short and concise biography of Van Buren. I am trying to read a biography of each of the presidents and did not want to spend alot of time reading a 500-600+ page book on one of the lesser known presidents. I think that the book could have been longer (say about 300 to 350 pages)in order to further detail the career of Van Buren.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very interesting, glad i read it....many things he really doesnt get credit forPublished 3 months ago by Jeffrey Roberts
The problem with this book is the style of writing that Ted Widmer uses. The book is difficult to read with many words I've never seen or heard of before. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Wendy Sue
Only known for the work "OK", this bio sheds light on a fascinating career.Published 7 months ago by Richard Folsom
Not one of the most popular presidents to grace our nation, Van Buren was more than most people realize. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bob Jenkins
Amusing and sensitive detailing of a President I knew only from Seinfeld. If you are going to read a biography of Martin Van Buren, this should be the one.Published 10 months ago by Rebecca E. Hamilton