Mark's Reviews > Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

Old Tippecanoe by Freeman Cleaves
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Feb 08, 13

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Read in November, 2010, read count: 1

William Henry Harrison is probably best known today as the answer to a trivia question. Yet his standing as the man with the briefest tenure as president obscures a long and important life. Freeman Cleaves's great achievement in this book is to describe this life in dramatic prose that captures much of the excitement of a young nation expanding westward in the early 19th century. Primarily a military historian, Cleaves focuses on Harrison's tenure as territorial governor of Indiana and his service as a general in the War of 1812, a period that served as the foundation for his subsequent political prominence. Yet the book's strengths also contribute to its weaknesses; its coverage of Native American policy is badly dated and there is little on the broader political context of his career, which becomes especially apparent in the later chapters chronicling his post-military years. Readers seeking an entertaining narrative about Harrison's military achievements will be well satisfied by this book, but anyone seeking a complete understanding of this unjustly neglected figure will find themselves turning to it only because of the absence of anything better.
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