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The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland Hardcover – May 6, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely adore this book! I am working n reading bios of each president, and this author does a splendid job of hashing out Clevelands life and politics without being dry or too... Read morePublished 6 months ago by southernguyandgal
If you are looking for a short biography of our 22nd & 24th president, I would prefer Grover Cleveland by Henry A. Graff (2002) that is part of Arthur M. Read morePublished 7 months ago by gv
The author's not-so-hidden agenda is to lead us to believe that Cleveland's conservative agenda is apropos to today's politics, namely the small government mantra beloved by Tea... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Stephen
Superficial at best. Should have seen it coming based on the title.Published 9 months ago by andrew kohlmetz
A thinly veiled political and religious manuscript disguised as a historical biography.Published 9 months ago by Nick
I never knew who Grover Cleveland was as the man or President. Wow, if only we had other presidents like him we just might be in better shape. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ann M. Goff
Good basic framework. However, the devil is in the details and Pafford leaves them all out or barely skims over them. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Prof