Customer Reviews for

Martin Van Buren (American Presidents Series)

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    Incomplete, disjointed, and irritating biography on Van Buren

    There are so many ways to dislike this book; however, I will try to stick to the most significant. The book is a mere 170+ pages long and the first 50 pages are completely disjointed and difficult to follow. Mid-way through, it begin to make more sense and be readable, but the entire section on Van Buren's youth and "rise to power" are a mess. This is too bad because I think one of the most interesting parts of a presidential biography is what formed these men into what they came to be. Perhaps there just wasn't much to speak of for Mr. Van Buren? The book also seems to apologize - or at least minimize - Van Buren's tacit support (prior to retirement) of slavery and the Jacksonian mistreatment of the indians. While giving brief comments on these serious topics, the author expends far too much effort trying to convince us how smart and clever Van Buren was, but with few examples to back it up. His rise to power is explained almost entirely by his ability to "get along" with people. Really!? Lastly, and by far the most irritating of the entire book, are the frequent contemporary references that YANK the reader out of the 1800's and back into the present day annoyances. Does a presidential biography really need to make passing references to Yahoo, the Simpsons, Doonesberry, and modern day political bickering? In some ways, this book read more like a campaign brochure than a biography. I hated this book, but thankfully it was only 170+ pages.

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