A Country of Vast Designs

A Country of Vast Designs

James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent

Paperback - 2011
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A New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Notable Book

Robert Merry's brilliant and highly acclaimed history of a crucial epoch in U.S. history--the presidency of James K. Polk, "our most underrated president" (Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein ).

In a one-term presidency, James K. Polk completed the story of America's Manifest Destiny--extending its territory across the continent by threatening England with war and manufacturing a controversial and unpopular two-year war with Mexico. "A crucial architect of modern America, James K. Polk deserves to be elevated out of the mists of history" (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion ).
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, c2011.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780743297448
Characteristics: x, 576 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map : 24 cm.


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Jul 26, 2017

An informative and important, if somewhat dry and indifferently, written history of our 11th president, the dimly remembered James K. Polk, with an emphasis on the Mexican-American War and the expansion of the country. A protege of Andrew Jackson, Polk lacked his flamboyance, but he, encouraged by John Tyler's expansionist tendencies, added a huge amount of territory to America, notably the West Coast, lowered tariffs, and stabilized the banks. Journalist/writer Robert W. Merry clearly admires Polk and so makes a strong case for his achievements, all done in one term (He was succeeded by Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican-American War.) A lot of iconic American politicians show up, like Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay (Polk's chief rival.), John C. Callhoun, and Martin Van Buren and the book admirably brings these historical figures to life. Again, it can be a little slow and I would've liked a sharper focus on American expansion and Manifest Destiny, but it's a good book about an often forgotten part of our history.


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