- Series: Signature Ser. ; Vol. 1
- Hardcover: 344 pages
- Publisher: American Political Biography Press (January 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0945707169
- ISBN-13: 978-0945707165
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Benjamin Harrison: Hoosier Warrior (Signature Ser. ; Vol. 1)
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The writing style is a bit dated (from the early 1960s), and the tone is a bit more adoring than we are accustomed to, but this biography and the subject matter were much more interesting than I expected. I agree that his first volume is the best of the 3, but the others were interesting as well. Based on reading the previous reviews and other similar reviews, I was not excited about reading these, but I am reading a full-length biography of every president in order and was not about to skip this one. It turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant task.
First off, this is, to my knowledge, the only real biography of Benjamin Harrison available. So if that's what you're looking for, I don't think there's anyplace else to go. Which makes it all the more a shame that this isn't really a very good biography.
Not only is a trilogy rather excessive for a comparatively minoir figure like Harrison (although the author, like most biographers, argues that his subject is more important than generally supposed), the worse flaw is that it doesn't, even at that excessive length, tell us what we want to know. It focusses too closely on the events, often minor, of Harrison's life, without telling enough about the major incidents of the era. For instance, the rise of the Republican party was an enormous event, in some ways as consequential as the Civil War. Harrison, the grandson of the only Whig president and the son of a Whig congressman who cast his lot with the new party, would be an ideal figure to explore how the Republicans replaced the Whigs, yet why he went against his family's party is never explored or explained. Was it because he had passionate opinions about abolition? Remarkably, the book discusses the details of his work for the Republican Party, but says less about his stance on Kansas, Dred Scott, John Brown, and the other great controversies of the 1850s. Many contemporary newspaper clippings praising Harrison's speeches are quoted - it seems he had quite a reputation for oratory in his day - but no quotes from the speeches themselves to show us why he was an admired orator and what his ideas were.