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An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland
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An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  270 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Grover Cleveland is known primarily as the only president to be elected to two nonconsecutive terms. But his record as a staunch reformer is equally impressive: from fighting powerful bosses in both political parties and vetoing bills he considered raids on the Treasury to resisting American imperialism and robber barons alike. And when he became embroiled in scandal -- fr ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 22nd 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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Jeremy Perron
Mar 21, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it
H. Paul Jeffers does not like footnotes, and he shares this opinion with Theodore Roosevelt, because footnotes `ruin the narrative'. Well, I like footnotes, it makes looking up information that much easier, but I am willing to let the author have his preferences, after all, he does have a brilliant narrative. Jeffers describes the life of President Grover Cleveland and the world in which he lived.

One of the things that becomes very apparent when reading this book is what a nice an honest man Cle
Dec 24, 2012 James rated it it was ok
Grover Cleveland is portrayed in this book as an unbendingly honest and upright individual while many of the most significant "compromises" which he made during his two non-consecutive terms in the Presidency as well as his overall inefficiency and inflexibility are overlooked. Jeffers glides by the wholesale firing of tens of thousands of Republican office holders and replacement of them with "good Democrats" in a Spoils System run wild during 1885 and 1893, and also Cleveland's undiplomatic ha ...more
Richard Shepard
Nov 14, 2013 Richard Shepard rated it really liked it
This is the story of the President who was born in my old home town and the only one who managed to serve non-consecutive terms. I found it interesting to read about a President whom most high school and college textbooks tend to ignore, and about a time when the most important issue facing the nation was the increasingly complex relationship between labor and management. There were no wars during Cleveland's tenure, and nobody tried to kill him. But there was a fairly severe economic crisis tha ...more
May 14, 2014 Phillip rated it really liked it
A great biography of the 22nd/24th President of the United States. As the first Democrat elected President since the Civil War, I really didn't know too much about him other than he was a big guy, used the veto a lot, was conservative (in the modern political sense), married a 20-something during his first term, and had secret jaw surgery on a boat(!). This book really explains more about his life and presidency. His time as mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York certainly shaped his presiden ...more
Leslie Goddard
Jun 01, 2016 Leslie Goddard rated it liked it
A good, basic biography. Jeffers compiles lots of facts. You get a good sense of his presidential priorities and what his administration accomplished. I wanted a little bit less meandering into side stories (do we need life stories of Samuel Gompers and others?) and a little more analysis/interpretation. Like so many biographers, he is far more interested in marshalling facts than in helping readers to understand what those facts tell us about how this person was. For example, the title of the b ...more
Dec 10, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
I suspect in life there are two types of biography, those that are thorough and exacting, and those that are not. This, I suspect falls more into the second category, if I'm honest. That is not meant to be disrespectful, it's just a statement of fact (to my mind at least).

The book itself does what it says on the tin. It gives you the facts, and a bit of the colour of Grover Cleveland's life and 2 presidencies, but... You know those textbooks you read in school as a kid that talked about Lincoln
Ed Callahan
Jul 25, 2014 Ed Callahan rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of the biographies of American presidents. Paul Jeffer's bio of Grover Cleveland is a very good one. Maybe not in the class of Doris Goodwin's Lincoln or Roosevelt/Taft but solid. His not being ranked as a great president may have more to do with when he was President than anything else. No civil war or slavery. No trust busting or war with Spain. But his rise to the Presidency has only two parallels(that I know about) in Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama. Mayor of Buffalo: Jan-Nov ...more
D.K. Brantley
Oct 26, 2015 D.K. Brantley rated it really liked it
I never knew my great-grandfather, but I was curious why his name was Grover Cleveland Brantley. Finally decided to do something about it and picked up this book.

Gotta say I dig Grover Cleveland. He had convictions and stuck by them, which endeared him to normal folks and made a few political enemies. Now if we can just convince more politicians to have a Grover Cleveland-sized backbone.

And while I never knew my great-grandfather, I will forever picture him as a larger-than-life truth-seeking f
Dec 14, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it

“An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland” was written by H. Paul Jeffers and published in 2000. Jeffers was an editor and producer at ABC, CBS and NBC and was the news director at two radio stations. He was also a prolific author, having written about seventy books on a diverse range of topics (fiction as well as non-fiction). He died in 2009 at the age of seventy-five.

Jeffers’s biography of Cleveland is entertaining and moves mo
Jennifer Nelson
This is a good, well-paced biography of Grover Cleveland, America’s 22nd and 24th president in the years 1885-1889 and 1893-1897. President Cleveland is a refreshing character to read about from the Gilded Age; he was a straight-forward, honest man, who in his own words, “always tried to do right.” His era was one filled with greed, selfishness, deceit, and rampant exploitation of the political system for personal gain. Cleveland, though, set himself apart by his own personal moral code that inc ...more
Brian Schwartz
Jeffers book falls woefully short on providing requisite information to put into context the behavior of Grover Cleveland. While historians know of the events that Jeffers fails to describe, students reading this book will find themselves baffled by the narrative, or they will have to do further research. That is the chief failing of this book and why I rank it among the weakest presidential biographies I’ve ever read.

History has been kind to Grover Cleveland – perhaps kinder than it should. He
Apr 26, 2013 Manny rated it liked it
I must say, Grover Cleveland is one of, if not THE most favorite presidents of mine. He was truly "The last Jeffersonian". When one compares Cleveland to Theodore Roosevelt, there are many differences and I have deemed both men incredible. One of them was an incredible man in his personal achievements and actions, and lacking fidelity to the Constitution, the other pretty much sedentary in his personal life yet a stalwart regarding the Constitution. I found so many similarities in our [Cleveland ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Rach rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in history, presidents, biographies
A well-written and well-rounded account of Grover Cleveland's life and politics. I've been curious about Grover Cleveland ever since my childhood obsession with the Disney movie "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band", which centers around Cleveland's second run for office, which he eventually lost to Benjamin Harrison. To this day, when anyone mentions Cleveland's name (it isn't often), I break out into his campaign song from the movie.

It's really very sad that not much is widely know
David Bales
Aug 31, 2009 David Bales rated it really liked it
This book in parts was maddeningly sketchy about some aspects of Cleveland's life, but detailed in others, especially his early years, which he spent mostly in Fayetteville, Clinton and Holland Patent, New York. Cleveland was an honest but conservative president in an age of bought and paid for politicians who protected the interests of large corporate trusts; (hey, that part sounds kind of familiar!) Going from mayor of Buffalo in 1881 to Governor in 1883 and President of the United States in 1 ...more
Chris Burd
I came into this biography with no preconceived notions of President Cleveland, positive or negative. It was an engaging biography. I can't really speak to whether it was "balanced" in terms of its treatment of Cleveland, as I don't have a lot of other information to compare it to. It did leave me with an overall high level of respect for President Cleveland's character and his efforts to make decisions, often unpopular ones, as he believed would truly be best for the American people.
Dave N
Jul 31, 2016 Dave N rated it really liked it
A fine, somewhat brief, and almost certainly hagiographic biography of Cleveland. Jeffers makes a very good case for why he was one of our greater (if less well-known) presidents, though, again, it comes off at times a bit too praising. The arguments against some of Cleveland's policies, such as the removal (or reduction) of the tariff, the freeing up of silver coinage, and the choice to use Federal resources in disputes between capital and labor, are not hashed out to any great extent. And, whi ...more
Aug 31, 2016 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read that helped clearly explain the politics of the late 19th Century, and why voters seemed to insist on electing presidents outside the normal political establishment. Cleveland's honesty does stand out as unusual in political history. I do wish Jeffers had spent more time on Cleveland's troubling attitudes towards race -- it's difficult to write him off as a "man of his time" when the 5 consecutive Republican presidents before him were pretty progressive on civil rights.
Tom Rowe
Nov 23, 2013 Tom Rowe rated it really liked it
Shelves: president, biography, 2013
This was a fast paced run through of the life of president 22 and 24. Unfortunately, due to the length of the book and the dearth of resources that "Big Will" left behind, the book does not go deep enough. However, the book does contain the following:
An out of wedlock birth
An insane asylum
A White House Wedding
A secret offshore surgery
More fishing
Teddy Roosevelt
References to weight
More fishing
More Teddy
A May-Decemberish romance
The origin of a candy bar
Gambling and saloons
An assass
Patti Abernathy
May 08, 2016 Patti Abernathy rated it liked it
Reading presidential biographies in order. Found Cleveland's way of looking at things refreshing. Wish we could take politics back to simpler days...
Jan 02, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
H. Paul Jeffers does an excellent job of describing who Grover Cleveland was, how he governed as a Mayor, Governor, and President. His book, "An Honest President" doesn't seem to be intended to make the reader like or dislike Cleveland's Presidential policies, but rather to introduce the reader to the type of man Cleveland was. He's presented as being an open and honest individual, and one who stood for doing the right thing for the Country while in office. It was also interesting to read about ...more
Mike Fournier
May 24, 2016 Mike Fournier rated it really liked it
This was a good biography of our 22nd and 24th president. Striking how racial issues have taken a complete backseat in the presidential bios since Grant. A sad statement.
Dec 15, 2015 Shawn rated it liked it
Interesting but not very captivating
Sep 20, 2013 Johnp rated it really liked it
Jeffers does an outstanding job bringing Grover Cleveland, a.k.a “the guy who shows up twice on the President timeline”, to life. What an amazing historical figure!

By the time I finished, Cleveland was right up there in my top 10 favorite President list. Who knew he was in politics a little more than 4 years before he made it to the White House? He was fiercely honest and stuck by his guns – even when those around him told him it would be political suicide.

Give this book a try!
Andy Plonka
Dec 13, 2012 Andy Plonka rated it really liked it
It is interesting to read about some of the less well know presidents and Grover Cleveland is one of them. All I knew about the man was that he is the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms and he fathered an illegetimate child, though both he and the mother were unmarried at the time. I think the title is appropriate. He may not have been the brightest president, but he was probably one of the most honest and as doctors are sworn, he tried to do no harm.
Monte Lamb
Jun 14, 2011 Monte Lamb rated it really liked it
Shelves: us-history
This is a good book and it is easy to read. It seems balanced. President Cleveland was one who stood on his principles and as he said on his deathbed, "I always tried so hard to do right." He had some tough problems to deal with and didn't let party politics get in the way of trying to do what was right for the people.
Jessie Gussman
Dec 05, 2015 Jessie Gussman rated it really liked it
"The role of a president was to see that government was not an obstacle and that those who governed understood that they were servants, not masters, and that the public office is a public trust."

"Though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people."
Jul 15, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it
Grover Cleveland was the Bill Clinton of his day. He rose from Buffalo NY to sky rocket to the Presidency, and was our only non-consecutive termed president. For those of us who don't know much about him or that period, it is a good introduction.
David Williams
Well written book about a fascinating and little know President. I wonder what our nation would be like of modern leaders would emulate the Honest President.
Nicole Marble
Oct 06, 2013 Nicole Marble rated it really liked it
Grover Cleveland is the subject of this sprightly, lively biography.
And, happily, he is presented as one of our better presidents.
Jul 07, 2012 Kgrover2 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book about a great and unfortunately little known president. Very illuminating. A truly worthy president.
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