- Publisher: W.W. Norton (1989)
- ASIN: B0017GRNAG
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,165,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Johnson's ambitious rise from poverty is exciting; the novel revealed his character well. Though Johnson often changed alliances, he remained above all a Jacksonion and a Unionist. Partly because of the many politicians involved and his changing allegiances, some of the players could be difficult to keep track of. Sadly, he simply was not up to the task of healing the nation's wounds after assuming the presidency after Lincoln's assisgnation. Few could have stepped into Lincoln's shoes successfully. Johnson assumed wrongly political approaches that worked in Tennessee would work nationally. His refusal to compromise drove many moderates to the radical camp who became desparate to remove him from office. The radicals failed by one vote.
Johnson may have been on of the most conservative presidents in our history favoring the reduction in government and keeping government out of all aspects of life and trade. His viewpoints provided a strong counter to the internal improvements crowd of the time and he went so far as to even oppose government funded roads. His strong sense of union left him in a position to be an obvious candidate for the vice presidency despite his previous breaking with party lines. As Lincolns vice president he would serve a function of representing the south's interest. Before his ascension to that position he had been the military governor of Tennessee and worked tirelessly to bring the state back into the union and ensure that it would be loyal afterwards despite accusations of his forming a dictatorship.
Johnson served as president between two strong factions that Lincoln had kept balanced out. Johnson did not have Lincoln's political savvy and it led to his impeachment but not conviction. While he was unable to run again for the presidency he was able to stay active in politics and served his party well. Andrew Johnson is a great political enigma and one that is often ignored. This is a highly recommended biography to learn more about a man who is not studied often.
It is a thorough exploration of this complex and deeply flawed President who was probably way above his real 'Pay Grade'
but took every opportunity to come his way for advancement and was a tough political operator, given those who opposed him.
My main criticism is that it does not explore the relationships with those around him, particularly his cabinet, and particularly Seward and Stanton, who seem very odd bedfellows.
Perhaps gets a bit repetitive about his 'States Rights' position, but then l suppose so was Mr Johnson!
I am glad l read it and now know much more about the immediate Post Lincoln period. But it seems to lack the dimensions of a really insightful biography and placing him in the context of his peers. Left me wanting more.