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Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America | [Walter R. Borneman]

Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America

This is a major political biography of a great American president - who won a war, transformed the government, and doubled the size of the United States...in four years. When Polk was sworn in as the 11th president, what followed was one of the most consequential presidencies in history.
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Publisher's Summary

The Best American Presidents of All Time is a somewhat nebulous list. The methodology for choosing the best changes from one poll to the next, and the criteria varies with each historian's personal biases. But over the years, there has been a general top 10-12 most historians agree on: Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, Wilson, Jackson, Reagan, and James K. Polk. That's right - James K. Polk.

This is a major political biography of a great American president who won a war, transformed the government, and doubled the size of the United States...in four years.

When Polk was sworn in as the 11th president, what followed was one of the most consequential presidencies in history. Against his opponents, he unabashedly proclaimed U.S. policy to be one of continental expansion. By the time he left office, Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Texas had been admitted into the Union, and Congress' mandate to wage war was forever rendered a rubber stamp by a transformed and empowered executive branch. True to his word, Polk stepped down after one term.

He remains relatively little known. In fact, no full-length modern biography of Polk has ever been written. Until now.

©2008 Walter Borneman; (P)2008 Recorded Books, LLC

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  •  
    Rik DeVoe Gainesville, FL United States 10-12-08
    Rik DeVoe Gainesville, FL United States 10-12-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Polk: One of our most important Preidents"

    President James Knox Polk, the man behind "Manifest Destiny" is finally being written about. Walter Borneman does a splendid job in putting down Polk's life story even though it does not have the military flash of a Jackson or a Grant. He does fill in the holes left by the only other Polk history to have come out in the last few years, James K. Polk: 1845-1849, as part of the American Presidents series. It was a very good general information book that was in need of a book like Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America. Read this book. It will go a long way in filling in some of your blanks in American History.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Michael New York, NY, United States 10-23-12
    Michael New York, NY, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Factual but...."

    The narrator is just okay. The book is not up to Bornemans more recent work-. I gave up after less than halfway through because the book doesn't really give you any real depth or understanding, just A basic chronological treatment like a good extended encyclopedia article

    This period is covered much better in the oxford history of america.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 03-10-12
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 03-10-12 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Interesting man Jame Polk"

    I learned a few interesting pearls from this book. Polk said he would only serve one term when he was running for election and he listed items he wish to achieve in the 4 years such as bring into the U.S. Texas, New Mexico territory, California and the Oregon territory. And he did this but had to fight a war with Mexico to achieve it. He also achieved some other items along the way. His wife Sarah had the band play a Scots march at formal occasion whenever Polk arrived at the event. The tune was "Hail to the Chief" and is still played today. The book cover lots of information about the politics of the day and a good overview of how California, Oregon, New Mexico and Texas came into U.S. control. Alan Nebelthau did a good job narrating the story. His life long health problems interest me so I am off to see if I can find out about them. His wife appears to be an interesting first lady I shall get a book about her also.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David I. Williams Keithville, LA, United States 04-26-13
    David I. Williams Keithville, LA, United States 04-26-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Great Introduction to Polk and His Times"

    James Polk was the president who brought Texas into the Union. He also added California, and the states of the Southwest. He made war with Mexico to achieve those ends. He also made peace with England that defined the northern territorial line of the United States and finally settled the Oregon Territory question for good.

    Born in North Carolina his family moved to Tennessee when he was a young man. After studying law he moved into politics. His most important mentor was Andrew Jackson. Jackson even introduced young James to Sarah Childress who would marry the up and coming politician. Polk's early career was meteoric. At the age of 30 he was elected to the House of Representatives. He would serve 7 terms and the last two terms he would spend as the Speaker of the House. He was elected Governor of Tennessee. Everyone thought that he would be an easy presidential contender. Then he lost his reelection bid for governor. He then lost the second attempt at the governor's office four years later. Everyone assumed that Polk was finished. Then, in 1844, the Democratic Convention was unable to agree on a candidate for President. Polk became that candidate.

    Everyone knew that admitting Texas to the Union would cause a conflict with Mexico. The territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers was claimed by both the United States and Mexico. Polk sent troops to occupy the region. A group of American cavalry were attacked by a force of Mexican cavalry. Several Americans died in the action. Polk requested a declaration of war because "American Blood has been shed on American soil." As a result of the war Polk was able to expand the boundaries of the United States. The war was controversial and Polk had to contend with the opposition led by the elder statesman John Quincy Adams. Assisting Adams on the opposition was a young Congressman from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.

    Polk ran with the promise to serve only one term. He kept his promise. After his term of office ended Polk took a tour on the way home to Tennessee. After his return home he became ill and died only three months after leaving office. Walter Borneman is a well respected historian and he has given a wonderful look at the life and Presidency of James K. Polk. This book is well written and is a good look into the issues that led only eleven years after his death to the Civil War.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shayle Oldsmar, FL, United States 05-11-13
    Shayle Oldsmar, FL, United States 05-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The performer is a speed reader!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes I would... It was a wonderful story filled with details and flowed well.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Alan Nebelthau?

    NO.... This guy is a speed reader... I drive a lot and enjoy listening to books. The narrator speed of reading actually made me nervous like I had too much coffee. I had to relisten to several parts because he just went through it so quickly.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No I didn't but I enjoyed the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Lee California 09-11-12
    J. Lee California 09-11-12 Member Since 2009

    Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.

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    "Under the radar, over the top!"

    When one thinks of the great presidents, Polk is usually not one of the names that floats to the surface. I believe, if more people understood what he did, and how his actions changed our country, he would be included as one of the most effective presidents that ever served. He is certainly one of the most tenacious in effecting his goals, and then leaving office after having done so in one term, despite the entreaties he received from his peers at the time to seek a second term. I think that we will never see such a straight forward president again, as the electorate would not tolerate it now. Vacillation being the preferred tendencies in today's candidates and elected officials. This book reads more like a novel, as the cast of characters is vast, and it encompasses such and eventful time in our young country's history. If you love history you should enjoy this book. Not a barn burner, but a good solid listen that will leave you well informed. The narration is good as is the writing. I recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-06-12
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-06-12 Member Since 2011

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "An unknown President shines in this book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Polk to be better than the print version?

    I enjoy the audio versions of most books. The only way this book in written form would have been better is if there were maps and pictures not included in the audio version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Henry Clay was the most illumanitating person in the book. I had of course heard of him previously but at least according to this book, Henry Clay was the most hard-headed uncompromising man that ever lived.

    We are lucky he never made it to the Presidency.


    What about Alan Nebelthau’s performance did you like?

    Mr. Nebelthau was succinct and precise in his reading. He rarely had to be in


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it is a good listen but not all at one time.


    Any additional comments?

    Polk was not even running for President when he got the nomination. Now I know that Romney could lose the nomination if he doesn't get a clear majority. Santorum or someone else could become the nominee...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 05-12-12
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 05-12-12 Member Since 2007

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

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    "Informative, but not riveting"

    I recently visited Polk's home (or at least that of his parents) in Columbia, TN and decided to listen to this book to learn more about a president I knew almost nothing about. The book is informative about Polk's life and presidency, but for me, Borneman would share detailed stories of troop movements and events away from Polk that while they did connect back to Polk, it was weak and too extraneous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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