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Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower
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This is a good summary, in 140 pages of actual text, of Taylor's life, focusing mainly on his command of US troops in the Mexican War, and 16 months as president (1849-50). This is part of the Times Books American Presidents series which offers similar treatments of most other presidents. The author is John S. D. Eisenhower who has written nine other books, most dealing with this same period, and the WWI and WWII years. There are several interesting tidbits about his life and record. For example, he very nearly became Jefferson Davis's father-in-law but Taylor would not permit his daughters to marry a military man. Most of his papers and letters were destroyed during the Civil War when his son's plantation was razed by the Union Army. Taylor was apparently the one to coin the term "First Lady". The issues that he struggled with during his brief presidency included slavery, the admission into the Union of California, New Mexico, and Utah, and a treaty with Britain that ultimately led to the Panama Canal. He became ill on the day of the laying of the Washington Monument cornerstone and died a few days later. I am doing a slow, casual reading of the terms of our US presidents, interweaving the mammoth 900 page bios of the "biggies" like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR, with less detailed bios on the "others" and it appears this series will suit my interests adequately. ( )
  maneekuhi | Feb 7, 2015 |
It is short but very well written biography that managed to create Zachary Taylor's portrait in relatively few words. It is very complimentary to the president. He was one of the few 'reluctant' presidents and author intimates that would Taylor live longer it could potentially change the way the issue of slavery played out. Substantial part of the book is dedicated to various military movements, which, of course, not surprising considering that Zachary Taylor spent most of his life in the army. ( )
  everfresh1 | Aug 8, 2014 |
This brief biography of our 12th President does an excellent job of giving the basics of Taylor's military career and 16 months in office. The author keeps the reader engaged, giving enough information on events and the personalities involved with them to make sense of, especially, the Mexican-American War and the build-up of tensions over slavery and the possibility of its expansion into new states. Taylor's family life is given only cursory coverage, but Eisenhower, a military historian, certainly knows how to bring battles and troop movements to life even for the non-military minded. ( )
1 vote auntmarge64 | Sep 30, 2010 |
history, president ( )
  Vic33 | Jun 10, 2010 |
Zachary Taylor isn't usually considered one of the most effective US Presidents. But as John Eisenhower points out in his biography of Taylor, greatness requires interesting times, and there just wasn't all that much interesting happening during Taylor's short presidency. And yet, Eisenhower manages to make Taylor interesting - both as a person and a President.

Taylor lived two lives - one as a Southern gentleman farmer and slave owner and the other as a career military man where he became a national hero in the Mexican-American war. As President, his main concern was in bringing the territory won from Mexico into the US without upsetting the balance between the regional factions threatening to pull apart the Union. Unfortunately, Taylor died of an unknown gastro-intestinal disease before these issues were resolved.

Eisenhower's Zachary Taylor is a well-written, highly recommended biography of a surprisingly interesting man. ( )
  drneutron | Dec 14, 2009 |
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To Douglas M. Black
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Zachary Taylor was a man whose looks deceived those who met him for the first time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805082379, Hardcover)

The rough-hewn general who rose to the nation’s highest office, and whose presidency witnessed the first political skirmishes that would lead to the Civil War

Zachary Taylor was a soldier’s soldier, a man who lived up to his nickname, “Old Rough and Ready.” Having risen through the ranks of the U.S. Army, he achieved his greatest success in the Mexican War, propelling him to the nation’s highest office in the election of 1848. He was the first man to have been elected president without having held a lower political office.

John S. D. Eisenhower, the son of another soldier-president, shows how Taylor rose to the presidency, where he confronted the most contentious political issue of his age: slavery. The political storm reached a crescendo in 1849, when California, newly populated after the Gold Rush, applied for statehood with an anti- slavery constitution, an event that upset the delicate balance of slave and free states and pushed both sides to the brink. As the acrimonious debate intensified, Taylor stood his ground in favor of California’s admission—despite being a slaveholder himself—but in July 1850 he unexpectedly took ill, and within a week he was dead. His truncated presidency had exposed the fateful rift that would soon tear the country apart.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:56 -0400)

A profile of the twelfth president traces his rise in the military and successes in the Mexican war to his election as the first president without a prior political office, in an account that also offers insight into Taylor's views on slavery and his sudden death.… (more)

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