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The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland Hardcover – May 6, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery History (May 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621570371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621570370
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Andrew B. Halldorson on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In a day where political spin dominates everything, it's fascinating to read of the swift rise of an anti-corruption politician who faced two great obstacles to the White House. One, a sex-scandal, of which he told his supporters, "Whatever you do, tell the truth"; the other, a threat to play ball - or else -- from the powerful Tammany Hall political machine, which Cleveland rejected utterly and publicly.
The author of this book, John Pafford is that rare thing - a conservative optimist, who can make long ago events seem relevant for today, and embolden hearts as they look to both the past and the future
I suspect I'm not the only reader who knew next to nothing of the Cleveland era. Despite all the great differences, some issues had a familiar ring. Faced with economic calamity and a great social upheaval as the job market changed, there was enormous pressure to essentially print money and borrow on the future. But Cleveland would have none of it. He used the veto more than any president before him, and cited again and again the Constitutional limits of the power of federal government.
Cleveland's integrity still has the power to draw admirers from all political backgrounds, just as it did in it's own day. Pafford includes anecdotes about an up and coming young Republican opponent - Theodore Roosevelt - who was a friend and admirer of Cleveland. And there is also a memorable exchange involving another supporter - the great writer and moralist Mark Twain.
Though the book looks at Cleveland through the eyes of a modern conservative, one of the best traits of the book is that Pafford never forgets his is writing foremost about a flesh-and-blood man, rather than a set of ideas. And so, by the end of the book, the reader may very well be ready to count Cleveland not only as a near great president, but someone it would have been a privilege to know.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gene Rhea Tucker on November 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A serviceable account of Grover Cleveland's life and presidency, but, ultimately, disappointing. If you know nothing of the period or the man, it is a fine introduction, but if you know a bit about the period and the politics of the time (I am a history prof), then it comes off as shallow. By page three, Stephen Grover Cleveland is full-grown, by page 7 he is sheriff of Erie County, and by page 15 he is governor. I prefer biographies that devote a bit more time to the subject's childhood and formative years. For instance, how does his father's Calvinism impact the young Grover? Nary a mention.

The non-consecutive meat of the book is devoted to Grover's presidential terms, where he indeed displayed a free trade, limited government attitude to the politics of the day. In this sense, he is the last Democrat in the mold of Jackson, and a throwback like Harding and Coolidge would be in the 1920s. The presidency and the politics of the time are explained in detail but not in depth, and the reasoning behind Cleveland's actions--Cleveland had a political philosophy--is the most illumanitive portion of the book. The author is definitely (look at the title) advocating for a government that is limited in scope, i.e. it's not the government's job to try to make things nice for everybody, it's a neutral umpire of the law.

The book has a lengthy appendix of some of Cleveland's speeches on the role of government; serviceable endnotes and a cursory bibliography. There is an excellent selection of plates with great photographs and COLOR political cartoons that help illustrate the history and politics of the time-period, with nice captions, but the pics and toons are not mentioned in the text.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dave Sarafolean on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Forgotten Conservative - Rediscovering Grover Cleveland - provides a good overview to a man largely forgotten. Serving the latter part of the 19th century Cleveland is overshadowed by bigger names: Lincoln, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. In this fast-moving volume the author provides a good overview of the man without belittling him for his faults (as some do) nor engaging in hagiography.

Grover Cleveland was the son of a Presbyterian minister, and that upbringing served him well throughout his life. That theological grounding probably explains his conservative approach to government - power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Cleveland was concerning about the ever expanding powers of government and did all he could to limit its growth by reflecting on the US Constitution. He did not view it as a living, breathing document but rather a charter that clearly set forth the limits of government Cleveland was a Democrat who makes many of today's conservatives pale in comparison.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dana Peringer Moutz on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It can't have been easy to live in the fish bowl of public life, yet Grover and Frances Cleveland were willing to do so, and performed admirably during Cleveland's two terms in office. Presidential fish bowls aren't all that different from 120 years ago, before visual technology started to move the picture, when people viewed a presidency through the printed word and through photographs and caustic cartoons. There were plenty of disagreements then, too. Take a look at the Puck Magazine cartoons on the web. Observe the difficulties Cleveland resolved from the beginning of his career in Buffalo, New York through his meteoric rise to the presidency, his second term having to address the Panic of 1893, as well as to deal with powerful nations desiring to snap up weaker ones. How did he become president so quickly? What was his management style? Why was the Democratic Party more conservative than the GOP? What was William Jennings Bryan's `Cross of Gold' speech about? Historian John M. Pafford looks at these and at issues of the day not unlike our own, for at their core are the human condition, character and the desires of men and women. Here described is how the Cleveland administration handled issues in monetary policy and management and labor. Cleveland's outlook is refreshing on the role and limits of government undergirded by a love for America.

Thanks to John M. Pafford for his thoughtful and succinct study of Grover Cleveland from boyhood through his last years, handsomely produced by the Regnery History Imprint of veteran Regnery Publishing, Inc. Without getting into overwhelming detail, Pafford's narrative fills in the background of Grover Cleveland and outlines the opportunities he took, the challenges he faced and how he faced them.
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