- Paperback: 468 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (April 14, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812976746
- ISBN-13: 978-0812976748
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 148 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America Paperback – April 14, 2009
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Tennessee Democrat James K. Polk is generally ranked among the nation's most effective chief executives. In this straightforward, unnuanced biography, Borneman (1812: The War That Forged a Nation) relates why. Coming into office determined to annex Texas, gain the Oregon Territory from Britain, lower the tariff and reform the national banking system, Polk achieved all four aims in his single term in office (1845–1849). But Borneman overlooks that in more or less completing the nation's lower continental territory, Polk bequeathed a fateful legacy to the nation-not so much transforming the U.S. (as the subtitle overstates) as setting it on the road to civil war. With the annexation of Texas came war with Mexico, which stripped that nation of half its lands while gaining the U.S. the southwest and California. It also unloosed the mad genie of slavery's possible further spread westward. Polk left the nation larger but politically crippled and morally weakened. But Borneman sticks to the narrative and doesn't place his subject in a larger historical context. 'Tis a pity, for Polk's administration ought to be a lesson to all candidates and all presidents at all times. 16 maps. (Apr. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“A terrific portrait of a man and his times.”—Jon Meacham, author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston
“For quite a while we’ve needed a new biography of James K. Polk–America’s great underrated president. Now, at last, Walter R. Borneman has delivered the goods. This book is both well written and diligently researched. Highly recommended!” –Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University, author of The Great Deluge
“Borneman gives us a book that is full of interest and insight and is a pleasure to read.”—Robert Middlekauff, Bancroft Prize-winning author of The Glorious Cause
“[An] informed and readable biography.” —Wall Street Journal
“Borneman is a trailblazer in the mold of his subject [and has produced] a volume that can stand with all but the very best presidential biographies.”—Louisville Courier-Journal
“With impressive exuberance . . . Borneman rightly describes his subject as America’s greatest expansionist president.”—Austin American Statesman
“Borneman manages to pull [many] threads together into a comprehensible and entertaining narrative. . . . [His] biography gives Polk his due.”—Rocky Mountain News
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
Strengths: fascinating subject, full modern scholarship, reasonable length, excellent description of the times and political context in whick Polk lived and served, long overdue treatment of such a notable president.
Weaknesses: focused on his political life to near exclusion of his personal life, one of the more notable First Ladies got extremely short shrift, much stronger in explaining the "whats" than the "whys."
Bottom line: I enjoyed it and am extremely glad it was written (I did not want to have to read McCormac's 80-year-old bio or Sellers' 2-volume set from the 1960s), but I would have liked to know more about Polk personally and his family.
What is in the book -
Most Americans have either never heard of Polk, or if they briefly learned about him in a history class they have forgotten all about him. This is unfortunate because under his administration the US increased in size by about 40%. In his run for the presidency Polk announced that he would not run for a second term and kept his word. Nonetheless, he was able to achieve all of his goals during this one term. He was able to:
1) Settle the boundary of the Oregon territory with Britain
2) Acquire California and New Mexico from Mexico
3) Reduce the size of the tariff on goods entering the US (the chief source of revenue for the Federal Government), while still keeping it high enough to give some protection for US producers
4) Create a treasury system independent of the banking system (he kept the US gold in silver in US vaults instead in private bank vaults)
While not a goal per se, he greatly expanded the power of the US presidency with respect to his ability to enter into a war prior to a congressional declaration of war. (He moved troops into disputed territory in Texas and when they were attacked this became the basis for the subsequent declaration of war.) The book provides a good capsule description of the war with Mexico. It also provides a lot about the political history of the US during the 1830's and 40's, and Polk's relationship with the great historical personages of the time, primarily Andrew Jackson, but also Presidents Martin Van Buren, and John Tyler and Senator Thomas Hart Benton. The book discusses how Polk carried on his presidency (he was not one of those Presidents who was partial to long vacations and he may have actually worked himself to death). The book also contains a lot about his personal life, especially his marriage to Sarah Childress Polk.
The book contains 16 useful maps and 16 pages of black and white illustrations. The publishers should be commended for printing these illustrations (mostly photographs of people discussed in the book), on glossy paper (even in the paperback edition), so they are of high quality.