HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

William McKinley by Kevin Phillips
Loading...
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1062113,849 (2.83)8
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 8 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
As part of my ongoing quest to read a book about every U.S. President, I picked up this volume. Having read a few books and numerous articles by Kevin Phillips, and a number of books in this series, I expected more than I found.

Schlesinger's series offers single-volume biographies of all the Presidents. For the fair-to-middling Presidents without major historical importance, I've relied on this series to fill a lot of the gaps in my quest. The series has been uniformly well written, concise, and informative. None of them go into great detail, but for these Presidential lesser-lights the biographies have been quite adequate.

My problem with Phillips book is is that it isn't truly a biography, but rather a pastiche of gilded age facts and figures, placing McKinley in the context of his times. It is as though he describes an exquisite picture frame and explains how perfectly it suits a portrait of McKinley, but says little about the actual portrait. A key fact about McKinley is that he was assassinated, which Phillips barely mentions; a casual reader might even miss this key fact. And we learn very little about his wife, except that she was terribly ill, prone to epileptic seizures. Perhaps McKinley left little historical record to work with, but surely there was editorial and news coverage to draw on, particularly concerning his assassination, that could have made this into a true biography.

Phillips makes an excellent case that McKinley set the stage for the entire progressive era, following in the footsteps of his hero and mentor Rutherford B. Hayes who also had progressive tendencies. This is an important story to learn, but I think McKinley deserves a longer telling of that story. ( )
  cvanhasselt | Aug 23, 2013 |
William McKinley is usually considered a middling US President - not in the top tier of presidents, but not at the bottom either. As one of the later Gilded Age administrations, McKinley and his cabinet are mostly remembered for events like the Spanish-American War in Cuba and the Philippines and for arguments over tariffs and the gold standard. He's considered by most historians to be fairly passive in leading by public opinion and to be the first president to use a modern approach to the press. And his assassination opened the door to Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressives.

In this volume of the American Presidents series, Kevin Phillips makes the case that McKinley should be considered a much stronger leader who began many of the initiatives later completed by Roosevelt and later Progressive administrations, and should be included in the second tier of presidents, well above where he usually falls in rankings today. If true, there's a disconnect in understanding McKinley, and I'm not sure I buy Phillips' reasoning. McKinley left very little in the way of personal papers and items normally considered direct sources. Phillips instead relies on writings by others around McKinley and some rather speculative interpretation of McKinley's words and deeds. Part of what most bothered me about Phillips' discussion is his speculation on what McKinley "would have done" had he not been assassinated in 1901. I suppose it's ok to do that, but it's a stretch.

Is McKinley the passive placeholder that Phillips put forth as other historians' opinions? Probably not. He was very popular, and did indeed seem to do some things that show a Progressive bent. Would he have brought about the kind of change that Roosevelt did? Should we view Teddy as a continuation of work begun by McKinley? Probably not. Teddy put his own mark on things and did things his own way. But the real McKinley is somewhere in the middle there as a mix of all these aspects. And almost certainly deserving of more respect than he often gets. ( )
1 vote drneutron | Mar 13, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805069534, Hardcover)

A bestselling historian and political commentator reconsiders McKinley's overshadowed legacy

By any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power. McKinley was one of eight presidents who, either in the White House or on the battlefield, stood as principals in successful wars, and he was among the six or seven to take office in what became recognized as a major realignment of the U.S. party system.

Phillips, author of Wealth and Democracy and The Cousins' War, has long been fascinated with McKinley in the context of how the GOP began each of its cycles of power. He argues that McKinley's lackluster ratings have been sustained not by unjust biographers but by years of criticism about his personality, indirect methodologies, middle-class demeanor, and tactical inability to inspire the American public. In this powerful and persuasive biography, Phillips musters convincing evidence that McKinley's desire to heal, renew prosperity, and reunite the country qualify him for promotion into the ranks of the best chief executives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:48 -0400)

By any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power. McKinley was one of eight presidents who, either in the White House or on the battlefield, stood as principals in successful wars, and he was among the six or seven to take office in what became recognized as a major realignment of the U.S. party system.… (more)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
5 wanted1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (2.83)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2
2.5 1
3 4
3.5
4 1
4.5
5 1

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,861,588 books! | Top bar: Always visible