Sunday, March 04, 2012

Five best books about failed presidential candidates

Scott Farris is the author of Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race But Changed the Nation.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best books list on candidates whose White House bids failed but whose stories have much to tell us about politics and ambition. One title on the list:
Henry Clay
by Robert V. Remini (1991)

Robert Remini is Andrew Jackson's finest biographer—and the finest biographer of Jackson's arch-nemesis, three-time presidential loser Henry Clay. The author illuminates how the rivalry between Jackson and Clay, echoing that between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, further defined the debate over the function and power of our federal government. Where Jefferson and Jackson dreamed of preserving a bucolic nation of yeoman farmers, Clay adopted Hamilton's more prophetic vision of using a strong and active central government to create a powerful industrial and commercial state, and to create a new freedom: the freedom of opportunity. Remini vividly captures the Clay whose political genius, roguish charm and brilliant oratory led him to be unanimously elected speaker of the House as a freshman congressman from Kentucky in 1811; he was Abraham Lincoln's "beau ideal of a statesman." Upon Clay's death in 1852, the New York Times said that he had been "too great to be president." Remini shows that this might have been true.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue