hits counter Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation

Availability: Ready to download

As the 2012 presidential campaign begins: Profiles of twelve men who have run for the presidency and lost, but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president—from Henry Clay to Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan to Al Gore—Plus, mini-profiles on 22 "honorable mentions." As the 2012 presidential campaign begins: Profiles of twelve men who have run for the presidency and lost, but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president—from Henry Clay to Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan to Al Gore—Plus, mini-profiles on 22 "honorable mentions."


Compare

As the 2012 presidential campaign begins: Profiles of twelve men who have run for the presidency and lost, but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president—from Henry Clay to Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan to Al Gore—Plus, mini-profiles on 22 "honorable mentions." As the 2012 presidential campaign begins: Profiles of twelve men who have run for the presidency and lost, but who, even in defeat, have had a greater impact on American history than many of those who have served as president—from Henry Clay to Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan to Al Gore—Plus, mini-profiles on 22 "honorable mentions."

30 review for Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Al

    This is one of those books that immediately I can't resist. I was a tad worried that only a year after both CNN and PBS did excellent video series on past elections and candidates, as well as some of my recent reading list, there might not be a whole lot left to learn. I needn't worry though since Farris does a particularly good job in relaying these stories. I suspect Farris knew about the most famous book of this kind (and his notes pages do admit his awareness) Irving Stone's 1943 book, They A This is one of those books that immediately I can't resist. I was a tad worried that only a year after both CNN and PBS did excellent video series on past elections and candidates, as well as some of my recent reading list, there might not be a whole lot left to learn. I needn't worry though since Farris does a particularly good job in relaying these stories. I suspect Farris knew about the most famous book of this kind (and his notes pages do admit his awareness) Irving Stone's 1943 book, They Also Ran, and likely because of that (and probably commercial pressures) focuses a lot on modern losing candidates. Farris's intent is to cover the candidates that lost that he thought had the biggest effect in American history. The book starts with a great chapter on concession speeches. This, he argues, is the fabric of America. Even if you disagree with Al Gore (or if you're old enough and still haven't gotten over Samuel Tilden) and think he conceded too easy; by doing so, he helped move the country in a healing way. Even in the modern divisiveness of McCain conceding to Obama. It rings particularly true post 2016 when some might have liked to seen more fight in Hillary, or one suspects if Trump had not ascended into the White house, would he have moved forward with concession or tore at old wounds and argued that he should be President- a move which clearly would be damaging. He also points out that as far as the popular vote goes, landslides are rare. There are only four elections in the post-Federalist era that one candidate received 60% of the vote (Harding over Cox, FDR over Landon, LBJ over Goldwater, Nixon over McGovern) Farris's picks are Henry Clay- Clay is a great American in a time of mediocre Presidents. Unfortunately, the Whigs tended to be the minority party, so the only times they were able to get enough votes to win was when they nominated ex-war heroes. Farris argues that though Andrew Jackson is the father of the modern Democratic party, that it is Clay whose views are more aligned with the liberals of today. Farris treats Clay as a bit of a Bill Clinton figure. Loved by his party, hated by the opposition, and a bit of a lovable rogue. Stephen Douglas- Douglas did try to keep the union together despite the country tearing apart in Civil war. Republicans wanted everyone to follow in step and silence dissent. Douglas may have saved his party, offering a differing voice and criticism that likely helped the country. It also kept the Democrat party strong enough to at least give Grant a strong challenge, win state and local elections and return to the White House in 20 years. (Douglas of course is on the wrong side of slavery, and Farris discusses that difficult topic as well) William Jennings Bryan- Bryan is strongly associated with the Scopes Monkey Trial, but Farris argues that he wasn't anti-science. Instead, in those times, people were arguing that Darwinism and more accurately through Social Darwinsim and Eugenics that there was not a humanistic need to help those who were in need. Bryan strongly believed in government assistance and safety net. Al Smith- Smith was the first Catholic Presidential candidate in a country that discriminated against Catholics, and a group whose main involvement in politicswas as boogeyman for groups like the Know Nothings and the KKK. Smith got stomped but Catholics entered the mainstream, which was helped by Hollywood in the 30s and 40s and priests as portrayed by Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy. Tom Dewey- Dewey, like Smith was governor of New York and has a fascinating bio. Dewey ran strong against FDR in 1944 and as you know was expected to win in 48. Farris picks Dewey as the GOP leader who set the precedent (that even know is still strongly adhered to except in rare cases) that the GOP was not going to attempt to repeal Medicare or Social Security. Adlai Stevenson- One person said this was the chapter where it was okay for an 'egghead' to be President. Adlai is where the Dems started to get painted with the brush of the intellectual elite and out of touch with the traditional blue collar crowd (though in fact, he was much less a Blue Blood than Ike and Nixon). After Adlai, the Dems have been the party of Tsongas and Hillary and even Obama was tagged with being 'too smart'. Barry Goldwater- The 1964 election could have been very interesting. Goldwater had written a book that was hot, and President Kennedy had fumbled in his first couple of years. JFK and Goldwater were friends and pictured a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates across the country where they would argue their points intellectually. That did not happen, of course, and no one likely would have beat LBJ. Goldwater's legacy of course did live in, although Barry might not have always agreed with his predecessors. George McGovern- Under McGovern, the Democrats put more than an inordinate amount of power first in hands of the people via caucuses, and then to groups like women and minorities. From a strictly numbers point of view, this was not a winning strategy in 1972. It however, was the campaign plan that got Obama elected. Ross Perot- Perot is an interesting one. He for sure made a 3rd party movement viable. As this book was published, his legacy was questionable. While he had success, he was unable to keep the movement going without him- people like Pat Buchanan and Dick Lamm did not have his appeal. Farris also argues that Perot had middle of the road appeal, so he is not particularly analogous to the Tea Party. Reading this in hindsight, Perot clearly helped pave the way for Trump, who was able to take a lot of Perot's appeal and a country that desired a businessman not a politician. Gore, Kerry, McCain- Farris clearly wanted to hedge his bets and he puts these three together. Too close in the rear view mirror to judge. Farris argues that these men changed the definition of the 'also ran' to what it used to be - the leader of the opposition, instead of what t became- a Mondale or Dukakis. Gore, of course for his activism. Kerry as Farris correctly predicted someone with Secretary of State aspirations. McCain as a voice of dissent during the Obama administration. The best part of the book may be the end which has short bios of everybody who ever had a major party nomination and lost (and unlike Jefferson, Jackson, Nixon et al never won). That is pretty fascinating. A list of great mostly forgotten Americans like Horace Greeley and John Fremont and people even history fans tend to forget like Horatio Seymour and Charles Evans Hughes. Farris mentions that no one writes about the losers- even someone as great as Henry Clay. Even the lowest President gets more press. He points out for example, that no one has written a biography on Alton Parker (1904, lost to TR). There was a lot about this book I liked and I learned a lot and specially liked the extra bio sketches. (As an FYI, I found this unbiased, but Farris did run for US Senate in Wyoming as a Democrat so that is where his heart lies)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    As a general rule, Americans focus on victorious presidential candidates and relegate the losers to the ash heap of history. However, according to Scott Farris, these unsuccessful presidential candidates have had a greater impact on the history of the United States than many of the men who actually held the office. They have helped to create, transform, and realign political parties, advocate new policies and programs that would later become law, and break barriers of class, religion, and gender As a general rule, Americans focus on victorious presidential candidates and relegate the losers to the ash heap of history. However, according to Scott Farris, these unsuccessful presidential candidates have had a greater impact on the history of the United States than many of the men who actually held the office. They have helped to create, transform, and realign political parties, advocate new policies and programs that would later become law, and break barriers of class, religion, and gender. Losing candidates have often been prophetic while many successful candidates have been locked into the politics of the past. This book focuses on the men who won the nomination of a major political party, but then lost the general election. It omits men who lost and then later won the presidency or those presidents who were defeated in a bid for re-election. Focusing on ten major unsuccessful candidates, Farris also included Ross Perot because he felt that of all of the third party candidates in U.S. history, Perot and former President Teddy Roosevelt running as a Progressive in 1912 were the only two third-party candidates who really had a chance to be elected. Henry Clay, who was one of the greatest legislators in U.S. history and who ran for president three times, is the best example of how failing to win the presidency reduces a candidate's historical presence. Clay's crafting of the American System, the Missouri Compromise, and the Compromise of 1850 tried to ensure that each section of the country had its needs addressed, displayed his ardent nationalism, and delayed sectional conflict through legislative compromise. There are numerous other examples of the importance of defeated candidates. Stephen Douglas lost to Abraham Lincoln in 1860, but he worked to ensure that the Democratic Party survived the Civil War intact and was an important force in reuniting the country after the war. Largely because of Douglas's emphasis on the Democratic Party as the "loyal opposition", the Democrats remained competitive in national elections during and after the Civil War. Douglas also broke precedent and personally campaigned for the presidency, traveling to states like Rhode Island which he had no hope of winning. After campaigning in New England, he also traveled to the South were he repeatedly spoke against secession. Ultimately he campaigned in 23 states in three and a half months. William Jennings Bryan believed that the national government should become involved in working for a more just and compassionate society and he was often viewed as much as a preacher as a politician. Running against William McKinley in 1896 and abandoned by the center of the Democratic Party, Bryan campaigned around the country, traveling 18,000 miles through 26 states drawing crowds of as large as 70,000. After Bryan, the tradition of the "front porch" campaign died out Despite his lack of money and support from his own party, Bryan carried 22 states in the South and West and received over 47% of the popular vote. While also running unsuccessfully for President in 1900 and 1908, Bryan's lasting legacy for the Democratic Party was moving it away from its conservative past and into a more liberal, reform-seeking future. Other "almost presidents" were instrumental in changing American politics. In 1928, the unsuccessful run by Democrat Al Smith, the first Catholic to run for president from a major political party paved the way for John Kennedy's victory in 1960 and helped to change the way many American viewed Catholics. Thomas Dewey guided the Republican Party away from an agenda of New Deal repeal and into a reconciliation of the basic outlines of the welfare state. And, Adlai Stevenson helped Americans overcome the prejudice against "eggheads" running for office. There are also lengthy essays on Barry Goldwater, Al Gore, John Kerry and John McCain as well as shorter pieces on the remaining "also-rans" for President.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob O'connor

    This was a nice find for me. I caught it on sale, and it languished away on my shelves for months. If I'd have known it was this good, I would have read it right away. The most fascinating almost-presidents were Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, and Ross Perot, but you don't want to miss William Jennings Bryan (Scopes Trial) either. Political junkies should pick this up right away This was a nice find for me. I caught it on sale, and it languished away on my shelves for months. If I'd have known it was this good, I would have read it right away. The most fascinating almost-presidents were Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, and Ross Perot, but you don't want to miss William Jennings Bryan (Scopes Trial) either. Political junkies should pick this up right away

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy

    I really enjoyed this and learned a lot. For any of you doing the presidential biography challenge--definitely take a look at this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danny Proffitt

    Fascinating read

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Today, to attain the Presidency, is to rise to the height of power and influence in the United States and to fail to attain it, a sign that your political career and usefulness to the United States is at an end. However, this current state of affairs is a recent addition to America's governmental landscape. In fact, for most of the past 200+ years, the "almost presidents" referenced in this book of the same name, provided good service to the United States, either before or after their failure to Today, to attain the Presidency, is to rise to the height of power and influence in the United States and to fail to attain it, a sign that your political career and usefulness to the United States is at an end. However, this current state of affairs is a recent addition to America's governmental landscape. In fact, for most of the past 200+ years, the "almost presidents" referenced in this book of the same name, provided good service to the United States, either before or after their failure to rise to the presidency. "Almost President: the Men Who Lost the Race But Changed the Nation" casts an investigative eye onto those men who forever changed this country through their failure. These overlooked men include the Great Compromiser, "Henry Clay, a Secretary of State and the man who helped prevent the Civil War from occurring 40 years earlier with his Missouri Compromise, but who ran afoul of public opinion by daring to be a foe to war hero Andrew Jackson, which ultimately cost Clay the presidency. In addition, the legacy of party loyalty to the Republican Party by African-Americans for a century was overturned by Barry Goldwater during his racist campaign to have the Republicans take back the South for white males, thus turning blacks into the Democratic Party stalwart supporters they are today. Goldwater's campaign sounded the death knell for bipartisanship in American politics. The other "almost presidents", from Stephen Douglas, who worked hard after his loss to Abraham Lincoln to keep the Democratic Party a united force in American politics, as a result, the party survived the Civil War intact, to Ross Perot who changed the way presidential candidates campaign, to William Jennings Bryan, the perennial candidate who would have been appalled as the mudslinging which went on during the recent losses of Al Gore, John Kerry and John McCain, all made their mark on America without being President. Though the influence of the later three has yet to be determined, but Gore had made significant forays into protecting the environment, while both Kerry and McCain are powerhouses for their respective parties in the Senate. I found "Almost President" by Scott Farris to be a very engaging and informative book. I was already interested in the history of American politics, so it wasn't a hard sell to get me to pick-up this book. But the style in which it was written, from word choice to the presentation of the information, would make it easily approachable by even history novices. I look forward to reading future historical forays by Scott Farris.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I would highly recommend this book for anyone following the current Presidential nominations/election. There are many lessons that could be applied from the past to this present situation. As it was, however, I enjoyed learning about the people who lost out on being president but were significant, influential men nonetheless. Americans are focused too much nowadays on "winners vs losers" but if more were to study the men who lost presidential elections maybe they would see there's a lot to learn I would highly recommend this book for anyone following the current Presidential nominations/election. There are many lessons that could be applied from the past to this present situation. As it was, however, I enjoyed learning about the people who lost out on being president but were significant, influential men nonetheless. Americans are focused too much nowadays on "winners vs losers" but if more were to study the men who lost presidential elections maybe they would see there's a lot to learn from these people. For instance, I learned quite a bit about Stephen A. Douglas, who has been overshadowed completely by President Lincoln. I learned how Barry Goldwater and George McGovern are largely to credit for the current statuses of the Republican and Democratic parties individually. Just an overall great read for American history buffs, president buffs, and those following the current elections.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    For history geeks such as myself, This was a really fascinating, & prescient, book to read right after Hillary Clinton's "loss" in the 2016 US presidential race. I had no idea how much influence many of these men had on the course of politics in the US. I particularly enjoyed the first chapter, "Concession," as the election loser's attitude toward the loss & the concession speech have been all-important in the country moving forward after an election, & the peaceful transformation of Power from one For history geeks such as myself, This was a really fascinating, & prescient, book to read right after Hillary Clinton's "loss" in the 2016 US presidential race. I had no idea how much influence many of these men had on the course of politics in the US. I particularly enjoyed the first chapter, "Concession," as the election loser's attitude toward the loss & the concession speech have been all-important in the country moving forward after an election, & the peaceful transformation of Power from one administration to the next, as exemplified by Al Gore in his "loss" in 2000. Now we have had two contenders in 16 years win the popular vote but lose in the Elextoral College. I would like to know Mr. Farris' opinion on that and on Trump's unimaginable election to the presidency. Strange times...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz Hargnett

    This book was frustrating to read because it was both interesting and boring at the same time. It was interesting during the parts which actually discussed how a candidate changed our political structure, as the premise of the book states. For example, that Barry Goldwater's campaign made the Republican party conservative and the Democratic party liberal, whereas before him each party had conservative and liberal extremes. But it gets wonky too easily. I just don't care who's a Federalist and who This book was frustrating to read because it was both interesting and boring at the same time. It was interesting during the parts which actually discussed how a candidate changed our political structure, as the premise of the book states. For example, that Barry Goldwater's campaign made the Republican party conservative and the Democratic party liberal, whereas before him each party had conservative and liberal extremes. But it gets wonky too easily. I just don't care who's a Federalist and who's a Whig and who supported the rise and fall of those parties. And I had to wade through a lot of wonkiness to get to the good stuff. Although, I never fully appreciated at the time the true nuttiness of Ross Perot. That's a good chapter.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie Tahuahua

    Although the author's political leanings are pretty apparent (just compare the chapters on Goldwater and McGovern), this was overall a great study on some talented men we never hear much about but should. Recommended for anyone interested in history and politics. Although the author's political leanings are pretty apparent (just compare the chapters on Goldwater and McGovern), this was overall a great study on some talented men we never hear much about but should. Recommended for anyone interested in history and politics.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Saleh

    For history lovers, the not so popular stories that changed the face of the american political history. Good read especially in an election year.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    I really enjoyed learning about the presidential runner up's that have had such an impact on the shape of our country. I really enjoyed learning about the presidential runner up's that have had such an impact on the shape of our country.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    I read a lot of books, even a lot of books about elections and politics [1], but the response I got to this book was very remarkable and striking to me, to the point where as I read it at lunch, and then at dinner, people stopped to ask me about the book and then gave me conspiratorial nods about how relevant the work was to what is going on right now. And indeed that is true. Yet although I read a lot of books few of them draw the sort of interest that this book did. I suppose it ought to be a I read a lot of books, even a lot of books about elections and politics [1], but the response I got to this book was very remarkable and striking to me, to the point where as I read it at lunch, and then at dinner, people stopped to ask me about the book and then gave me conspiratorial nods about how relevant the work was to what is going on right now. And indeed that is true. Yet although I read a lot of books few of them draw the sort of interest that this book did. I suppose it ought to be a sign that anything about politics is going to draw a lot of interest. In the case of this book, the attention is deserved, as even though I disagree with the point of view of the author concerning what is ideal, the subject matter of this book is without a doubt very timely, and that is something that deserves to be appreciated. This book was certainly a worthwhile read and that is something worth celebrating, even if it was distracting and a bit irritating having to talk to people who wanted to hear about this book while I was in the process of reading it. This book has straightforward contents and begins with a chapter that discusses the importance of the concession in preserving the overall political legitimacy of the American political system, something that is extremely relevant at present. After that the author spends several chapters talking about notable and influential people who never won the office of presidency but made it close and whose ideas have stood the test of time and whose behavior was massively influential: Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Ross Perot, and then a combination chapter with Al Gore, John Kerry, and John McCain. The book's appendix gives short discussions of all the failed major-party candidates for the presidency. There are some elements of this book that were prophetic, in that they showed John Kerry's fitness to be Secretary of State, which he was in Obama's second term. The author mentions more than once that Alton Parker has never had a biography written about him, which someone needs to get done. The author appears to be open for a new project if there is a publisher interested. There is a lot that we can learn about elections from studying those who lost. For one, it is hard to do an election right. There have been times where campaigning hard cost someone a win, times when not campaigning hard enough did it. There were times where certain parties seemed predestined to lose, other times where candidates were chosen not because of any commitment but because it was simply their time to run. There have been many occasions where people struggled to find the right image in order to win, and some people that seemed unable to win because they had far too high of negatives and happened to make blunders that ruined their chances. Yet the defeat of a campaign has not meant a defeat of one's ideas, as those ideas can be repackaged and promoted by others whose reputations are less toxic because of a frightening past history to work from. One can only wonder what kind of expansions to this book will be made given our more recent politics after this book stopped, a subject it is perhaps too depressing to dwell upon at length. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Traditional studies of U.S. history include those who occupied the Oval Office. Scott Farris has written an engaging summary of those who sought that hallowed office but fell short. Almost President is a great read for those who consider the study of history an enjoyable past time and not just a school subject. While the history of each candidate is by no means exhaustive, each mini-bio might invoke a lover of history to additional reading on those he or she finds interesting. Almost President i Traditional studies of U.S. history include those who occupied the Oval Office. Scott Farris has written an engaging summary of those who sought that hallowed office but fell short. Almost President is a great read for those who consider the study of history an enjoyable past time and not just a school subject. While the history of each candidate is by no means exhaustive, each mini-bio might invoke a lover of history to additional reading on those he or she finds interesting. Almost President is mostly objective while sharing each man's story; however, fans or detractors of them might provide a complete new perspective. The book concludes with a brief review of McCain, Kerry and Gore that challenges the reader to ponder what legacy lay ahead for these three. Lover's of history and presidential politics will not be disappointed with Almost President.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Almost President was published in 2012 so it gives perspective on US presidential elections with the exception of the most recent one. We love winners but throughout history the losers have made a considerable impact on the country. This book proves it. May we remember their memories - good and bad - and learn from them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hugh Heinsohn

    Fascinating and well written. The author has an interesting thesis that he defends and expounds upon quite well: Losing presidential candidates can have more consequential effects on the future of the country than the winners. Excellent capsule biographies of Tom Dewey, Al Smith, Henry Clay, George McGovern, and many others.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Clever concept (brief biographies of losing presidential candidates who nevertheless made their mark on American history) marred by sloppy editing and some weird choices. Thomas Dewey gets an entire chapter to himself but Hubert Humphrey is lumped in the appendix?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This book was full of interesting information, but each chapter was written like a rambling college term paper. I would have enjoyed more focused writing, but I did learn a lot.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Csparrenberger

    Very interesting book with lots of interesting facts about some persons you have never heard of. Well done.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Some interesting stuff to be learned in this book about men who almost became president. Many are forgotten after the election, but had interesting lives after.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    I couldn't get into the book. The idea sounded very intriguing--a look at various men who lost the election and how they handled it in the immediate aftermath (the concession speech) and how they went on afterwards. Obviously many have full lives ahead of them after losing an election, and the book examines how selected defeated candidates handle themselves after the election. They include people like Adlai Stevenson and Ross Perot (which I thought was an odd selection, but I'm sure the author h I couldn't get into the book. The idea sounded very intriguing--a look at various men who lost the election and how they handled it in the immediate aftermath (the concession speech) and how they went on afterwards. Obviously many have full lives ahead of them after losing an election, and the book examines how selected defeated candidates handle themselves after the election. They include people like Adlai Stevenson and Ross Perot (which I thought was an odd selection, but I'm sure the author had his reasons). It was disappointing to see some of the more recent ones (Gore, Kerry and McCain. The book was updated for 2012 but as it really hasn't been all that long it's hard to say what, if any, legacy Romney has/will leave. As of this writing, Romney has reappeared to criticize the Obama administration about its handling of Russia and Ukraine.) combined together and see Perot get his own chapter. Perot pops up every now and again, but I couldn't quite understand why he got his own chapter but Bob Dole doesn't, particularly as Dole's wife, Elizabeth, would run for office herself. Something about the writing style isn't very good and it was very difficult to get into the writing. It isn't a matter of political bias, since I think I probably agree politically with the author more than not. But I was looking forward to this book and couldn't find a way to get interested. If you're interested in politics and want to see what happens to those who have lost, it's not a bad read, but would recommend the library. It might make a great companion book to "The President's Club" which tells the story of Presidents and how they interact with their successors.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    According to the author, some of the men (and they were all men) ended up being large influences despite losing the biggest election of their career (multiple times in some cases). Farris, for the most part, does not seem to judge whether or not the influence of these men were of a positive nature, only that they influenced something. While some, like Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas had legitimate impacts on history, by either creating or sustaining democracy through the two party system, the rem According to the author, some of the men (and they were all men) ended up being large influences despite losing the biggest election of their career (multiple times in some cases). Farris, for the most part, does not seem to judge whether or not the influence of these men were of a positive nature, only that they influenced something. While some, like Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas had legitimate impacts on history, by either creating or sustaining democracy through the two party system, the remainder are more questionable. Al Smith's disastrous candidacy led to American Catholics pushing their way into the mainstream, but he had no personal hand in that. Later candidates seemed to be more like prototypes for more successful candidates down the road, suggesting Dewey influenced Ike and Nixon while Adlai Stephenson may have been the first Democrat to use lofty rhetoric and an intellectual demeanor in a way that sounds a lot like Kennedy or Obama. But the style of the book was a bit so-so. The first chapter, on the importance of the concession speech, didn't do much for me, and the inclusion of Ross Perot seemed to be more of a baffling sign of the times than a really influential force for politics. Not a bad book, but not an overly compelling one either.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I thought this book would be small amounts of information on a lot of people. In actuality, the author focuses on a chapter each for about 10 losing presidential candidates whose actions changed our government in some way, then has smaller write-ups on the rest of the major party nominees. It's very much a history book, interesting and well-written but slower-going for me than I anticipated. I thought I picked up on some Democratic leaning from the author in his descriptions of the candidates, an I thought this book would be small amounts of information on a lot of people. In actuality, the author focuses on a chapter each for about 10 losing presidential candidates whose actions changed our government in some way, then has smaller write-ups on the rest of the major party nominees. It's very much a history book, interesting and well-written but slower-going for me than I anticipated. I thought I picked up on some Democratic leaning from the author in his descriptions of the candidates, and sure enough he is a Democrat. It would have been nicer to have a truly nonpartisan book, but I don't know if it's possible to be so interested in a topic and not have some personal opinions leak through. Overall, I think he did a good job of representing the candidates fairly, although the chapter on Goldwater seemed conflicted and I'd like to do more reading on him to get a better grasp of where he stood.

  24. 4 out of 5

    J.J. Lair

    I sometimes think publishers assign a price for a book before it's written. This is one of those cases. The topic was interesting and the research and analysis was thorough. I bought the book because I often wondered how it was possible that someone like Henry Clay wasn't president. The man was responsible for several compromises that stopped the Civil War for years. This book explained his rivalries, enemies and policies and how those cost him. I was clearly interested in this section. The auth I sometimes think publishers assign a price for a book before it's written. This is one of those cases. The topic was interesting and the research and analysis was thorough. I bought the book because I often wondered how it was possible that someone like Henry Clay wasn't president. The man was responsible for several compromises that stopped the Civil War for years. This book explained his rivalries, enemies and policies and how those cost him. I was clearly interested in this section. The author then beat this horse for several more pages. He presented a short biography, analysis of his views and then went on and on. It's is what every chapter was like. If the book was almost cut in half, I would love it. I think the publisher wanted to charge $28 for this and it had to be padded. I get it. Goldwater created the modern Republican Party. McGovern reached out to new demographic groups, who didn't respond. The author dragged it out again and again, much like this review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ralphz

    Not all who lose the presidency fade into oblivion. This book shows how some of the also-rans had a tremendous impact on the nation. Two of the most obvious and most recent: Al Gore and Barry Goldwater. Gore (controversially) lost to George W. Bush, then finding a new cause, raised the profile of the (controversial) issue of climate change. Would he have pushed the issue into the national psyche if he had won? Goldwater was a conservative before his time, much-ridiculed and hated. But he impacted Not all who lose the presidency fade into oblivion. This book shows how some of the also-rans had a tremendous impact on the nation. Two of the most obvious and most recent: Al Gore and Barry Goldwater. Gore (controversially) lost to George W. Bush, then finding a new cause, raised the profile of the (controversial) issue of climate change. Would he have pushed the issue into the national psyche if he had won? Goldwater was a conservative before his time, much-ridiculed and hated. But he impacted the conservative movement for good by influencing a personable ex-actor and future president, Ronald Reagan. There are more stories like this, most of them unexpected. Always a good thing to read up on presidents during a presidential election year. More reviews at my WordPress site, Ralphsbooks.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    Very interesting read for someone (like myself) who is not well-versed in presidential history. This book provides a brief glimpse (single chapter) at a dozen or so presidential also-rans who had an impact on the national discourse or direction despite losing. In some ways it is pretty sad that I didn't know a lot of this stuff, that probably speaks to my lack of history/poli-sci coursework of course, so nobody's fault but mine as the song goes. One note, I would have liked to have seen some alte Very interesting read for someone (like myself) who is not well-versed in presidential history. This book provides a brief glimpse (single chapter) at a dozen or so presidential also-rans who had an impact on the national discourse or direction despite losing. In some ways it is pretty sad that I didn't know a lot of this stuff, that probably speaks to my lack of history/poli-sci coursework of course, so nobody's fault but mine as the song goes. One note, I would have liked to have seen some alternate opinions on each person, as this book seems to present the view on each as historical fact. It is possible that this information is in the referenced materials, but was not included for space or another reason.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James Keenley

    This is a fascinating and very informative book. It's much more than a group biography of presidential also-rans. The book's subtitle explains what makes it so interesting: "The men who lost the race but changed the nation." Scott Farris focuses on nine presidential non-winners -- Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Thomas E. Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Ross Perot, plus a brief look at the three losers of the first decade of the 20th c This is a fascinating and very informative book. It's much more than a group biography of presidential also-rans. The book's subtitle explains what makes it so interesting: "The men who lost the race but changed the nation." Scott Farris focuses on nine presidential non-winners -- Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Thomas E. Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Ross Perot, plus a brief look at the three losers of the first decade of the 20th century, Al Gore, John Kerry, and John McCain -- and aptly demonstrates how, despite their losses, these men and their candidacies had a profound effect on our history. A must read for anyone interested in American history!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Great book! The book is 10 short biographies, only giving a rough outline of each Presidential candidates life. Each one was fascinating, some admittedly more than others. The book is also chock full of great little quips and witticisms that others have written about the Candidates. The book is full of humor and greater historical context to the political trends that shaped the nation. This book will give you a broad, albeit shallow, understanding of the turning points in the politics of the nati Great book! The book is 10 short biographies, only giving a rough outline of each Presidential candidates life. Each one was fascinating, some admittedly more than others. The book is also chock full of great little quips and witticisms that others have written about the Candidates. The book is full of humor and greater historical context to the political trends that shaped the nation. This book will give you a broad, albeit shallow, understanding of the turning points in the politics of the nation. Not only that, but it will keep your interest, which can be hard when dealing with politics.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fred Klein

    The premise of this book is that a presidential candidate who loses the election can still make a lasting impact on politics. The author supports this premise with the stories of some of our greatest political figures, including Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas. Some of the book may offend the sensibilities of those who are committed to one end of the political spectrum (left or right) and who do not want to hear positive or negative things about controversial figures like Goldwater and McGovern. The premise of this book is that a presidential candidate who loses the election can still make a lasting impact on politics. The author supports this premise with the stories of some of our greatest political figures, including Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas. Some of the book may offend the sensibilities of those who are committed to one end of the political spectrum (left or right) and who do not want to hear positive or negative things about controversial figures like Goldwater and McGovern. But it is undeniable that many of these men made this country what it is today and/or made our political parties what they are today.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jc

    If you have any interest in the history of the American presidency or in general American history, this is a must read. Well written, with lots of details, including many I bet you DON'T know, this is a special and unusual work. One or two of the VPs I did not know much about other than their name, but of the 34 described (9 in fabulous detail), I found my opinions changed on all but one or two (e.g., I never had much respect for Perot, but now I have even less, though it was quite interesting h If you have any interest in the history of the American presidency or in general American history, this is a must read. Well written, with lots of details, including many I bet you DON'T know, this is a special and unusual work. One or two of the VPs I did not know much about other than their name, but of the 34 described (9 in fabulous detail), I found my opinions changed on all but one or two (e.g., I never had much respect for Perot, but now I have even less, though it was quite interesting how much he affected campaigns since his time). Highly recommended (the book, not Ross).

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.