This book is the second volume of a two-volume biography of Grover Cleveland.However, it's not actually organized like a stand-alone volume, with introductory material; instead, it picks up right where the first volume ended, as if both volumes composed a single book — even starting its page numbering where the first volume left off rather than beginning again at page 1.
This volume covers the time between Cleveland's loss of the election of 1888 and his death, including his election to a second non-consecutive term in 1892.The author continues to convincingly paint Cleveland as a man of integrity who was more interested in doing the right thing than in personal aggrandizement.He seems to have been a bit more politically astute after the experiences of his first term, as he subsequently made a few attempts to influence politics via presidential appointments.However, he also made some poor choices, such as in the makeup of his second cabinet.In particular, his choice of Olney, first as attorney general and later as secretary of state, seems to have led to some bad handling of both the Pullman strike and the Venezuela border dispute involving Great Britain.
Cleveland's use of Federal troops to put down the Pullman strike was popular at the time, but from today's perspective seems troubling.It also seems inconsistent with his approach to the tariff question, on which he favored an approach that helped the common man over the wealthy upper class.(Of course, he was also strongly in favor of keeping the U.S. on the gold standard, as desired by wealthy businessmen, despite pressure from westerners favoring silver.So perhaps he really can't be characterized as strictly favoring either faction across the board.)
As I mentioned in my review of volume 1, this book suffers from having been written in the 1930s.This is particularly evident in the second volume, where the author frequently makes assumptions about the reader already being familiar with several events of Cleveland's presidency.This may have been true when the events were recent enough that many people had first-hand memories of the events, but it is certainly not true today, and I would have preferred to see a more comprehensive explanation in these cases.
Overall, this book does a good job of capturing Cleveland's life and accomplishments.Cleveland is also more interesting than many of his predecessors; the period between Grant and the end of the 19th century is a bit dull, but Cleveland's presidency marks the beginning of the the end of that dull period.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Cleveland's life and times.
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