Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “President McKinley: Architect of the American Century” as Want to Read:
President McKinley: Architect of the American Century
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  65 reviews
In this great American story, acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley, which loses out to the brilliant and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt who succeeded him after his assassination. He portrays McKinley as a chief executive of consequence whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect his enduring accomplish ...more
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  304 ratings  ·  65 reviews

Sort order
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, net-galley
Robert W Merry has done justice to the 25th President of the United States with his new work President McKinley: The Art of Stealthy Leadership (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

William McKinley, a Union Civil War veteran, US Congressman, and Ohio Govenor, is often ranked in the top 20 of Presidents, generally ahead of his predecessor Grover Cleveland, but in the shadow of his second Vice-President the energetic and highly regarded, Theodore Roosevelt, who assumed the Presidency on September 14 1901
Christopher S.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Robert Merry’s book, “President McKinley: Architect of the American Century” is a solid history of William McKinley’s life and presidency. The work is straightforward and workmanlike. It is, however, written in a stolid prose that lacks the narrative ability of better know popular historians like Carro, Chernow, McCullough, or Millard.

As one born and raised in Stark County, I learned a great deal that I did not know about my home town of Canton. Merry also did a fine job at describing the inters
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good solid and well-researched biography on William McKinley, a President who is often overshadowed by his successor, Teddy Roosevelt.

Even though he is from Northeast Ohio, I knew very little about McKinley when I started this book. Although not always easy to read, I did learn a lot about this man and all he accomplished during his lifetime. Much of this information is interwoven throughout this book, so this is what I have pieced together:

McKinley was born on January 29, 1843 and whe
Jimmy Reagan
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the world of presidential biography, how would you grade the biography of one of our lesser – known presidents? Without doubt, it requires more of the author. The two main characteristics of such a presidential biography must revolve around: a) skilled writing that draws you into the life of one you never realized was interesting, and b) enough depth to make you feel that you really know this person. Granted, the life of the president that headlines the biography is what it is, and the author ...more
Scott Klemm
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked up a copy of Robert W. Merry’s President McKinley expecting a straight forward biography. However, I encountered long sections where McKinley was barely mentioned. (Perhaps a more suitable title might have been The United States in the Era of William McKinley). The book is very detailed and meticulously researched. Of the book’s 608 pages, 82 are notes. Personally, I sometimes found it a bit tedious wading through detailed accounts of such issues as tariffs, the gold standard and bimeta ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summary: A biography of McKinley's life, from Civil War hero to Canton attorney, congressman, governor, and to a presidency ended by an assassin's bullet, arguing he was a far more consequential president than usually credited.

My home state of Ohio holds the distinction of producing the most presidents, and many would also say, the most mediocre presidents. In many rankings of presidents, William McKinley is included in this number.  He is often portrayed as the colorless pawn of Cleveland indus
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Merry adopts the theory that McKinley was a forerunner of Eisenhower, the type of executive who seems merely to hover in the background but in fact is directing events precisely where he wants them to go. Whether he proves this theory is another matter.

Merry provides a biography of McKinley's full life, not just his 4.5 years in the White House. It should be clear to all that McKinley was an admirable man, worthy of being honored and emulated. He had a strong sense of civic duty; he served his c
There are some presidential biographies you have to stick with, despite having the same points hammered home too often, because the historical record isn't so wide. Robert W. Merry's biography of William McKinley is one of them, which has fostered in me new interest in McKinley to one day seek out the significantly earlier In the Days of McKinley by Margaret Leech, which Merry mentions, and which is available at the Ventura College Library, local to me.

But others may not have that opportunity, s
Joe Stack
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this biography even though at times I felt I was getting more details than I wanted or expected. I found this biography to be engaging and highly readable, well worth one's time, especially for anyone interested in leadership. We're use to presidents who command attention, who are very outgoing, even bold or flamboyant and ego-driven, in how they lead and confront congress and their opposition. It is pleasant to read about a man who lead behind the scenes, a hidden hand type of leaders ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
My review at NRO is here:
Debbie Jacob
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This, the latest biography on McKinley, was certainly well worth the wait. Robert W. Merry does an admirable job of capturing McKinley, the person, as well as McKinley, the politician, making them both understandable and engaging for readers. After reading at least one biography on every US President this year, I can safely say that McKinley turned out to be one of the most interesting and one of the least known presidents. This is extraordinary considering the way he shaped US foreign, imperia ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
The author kind of hamstrings the reader in his early assessment of President McKinley by declaring him as not being creative or visionary. So for about half the book the reader labors over segments about tariffs or bi-metallism. Yawn. To be sure, McKinley is a completely honest, god fearing man, but more importantly for this book, and the reader, a consummate politician. McKinley moves up the political ladder in Ohio, makes a number of connections, and through good old Mid-Western hard work, be ...more
Terry Tucker
Jan 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On the Fence

There are 488 reading pages followed by pictures, acknowledgements and notes. The book is rich in detail and links key persons and detail to many events throughout McKinley’s life. At times it’s a tedious slog that requires breaks to refresh yourself. The one criticism I have is that the authors seems to be overly ebullient of McKinley and does not address his failings or weaknesses. At times I had begun to wonder if McKinley had only occasionally had gotten his ankles wet. All in al
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: president-bio
This was a good book because it put’s McKinley’s policies into context, particularly how his handling of the territories won during the Spanish American war. How do rule a colony as a colony and still be a democracy. While usually don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss in vivid detail events occurring outside the presidency, the author tactfully discussed the ongoing, and challenging insurgent situation in the Philippines. I guess the biggest complement I could give a Pres bio, which I do with ...more
Mike Warren
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When did the United States become a global power? Was it when the arrival of American troops in Europe helped to swing the balance of power to the Allies in the First World War, or was it much later when U.S. industrial power became the deciding factor in World War II. In his most recent book, presidential historian Robert Merry makes a convincing case that America's rise to global dominance occurred at the end of the 19th Century under the steady hand of our 25th President, William McKinley. Fr ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: u-s-presidents
For me, Robert W. Merry’s biography of President McKinley is about as perfect as a biography as one can read. I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve read many that were too short, too long, too detailed, too unbalanced, and there were many that I struggled to stay awake while trying to finish. This book seemed perfectly proportioned. I never found myself mentally drifting. The only drawback that I can state is that I wanted more. But shouldn’t that always be the case with a great book?

We read a fair amo
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am very glad I read this book. I gained a lot of knowledge about this time. It also was, for me, a reasonable length of book right now (488 pages). Whether I should be embarrassed or not, I have recently read some thick books and was ready for something that I could start and finish in a week. (My notes say it took me 10 days, but I only read 30 or so pages before setting it down for three days to finish a few other books.). I read all of my books in hard cover. Some of my recent reads have be ...more
Gary Bowman
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a timely and important book. Numerous newspaper editorialists have compared McKinley to Donald Trump, for a variety of reasons. But this book makes clear--without referring to the current era--that McKinley was no Trump. One of the most interesting parts of the book was McKinley's Civil War experiences. McKinley enlisted as a private in the local volunteer unit--Company E, 23d Ohio Voluntary Infantry Regiment (the regiment was commanded by William Rosecrans, a West Point graduate, who la ...more
Scott Pierce
Having just read Chernow's new Grant biography, I thought that Merry's work on McKinley was more balanced (vs. Chernow's fawning examination of Grant), although like Chernow, Merry was prone to attempting to defend his subject and elevate him in the presidential rankings. Merry's epilogue seemed a fair summary - a lot happened during the McKinley presidency, and the argument is over how many of those events should be credited to McKinley.

Some interesting points:

- McKinley's introduction to eleva
David Montgomery
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting and readable biography of a forgotten president. Interesting as a bio of McKinley, an understated personality who kept getting the better of flashier politicians who perpetually underestimated the Civil War major.

But to me the best part of this book was as a way to use history as a lens on our own time. Reading recent history, one can be struck by how similar everything seems to the present day — not invaluable, but also adding limited perspective.

In contrast, more remote history
Andy Miller
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The thesis of the biography is that William McKinley is an underrated President, part of the reason being that his successor Theodore Roosevelt refused to give McKinley and credit for his accomplishments and that historians ,fascinated by Roosevelt's personality, followed suit.
Robert Merry, the author, is convincing. He lists towering political figures of the times who underestimated McKinley only to be outmanuevered by him. He details the economic issues of the time and how McKinley's commitmen
Bill Lucey
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
How much do we know about President William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States?

Other than he was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American and an anarchist at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo New York on September 6, 1901 (he died on the 14th), giving way to the flamboyant Rough Rider (and former New York Governor) Teddy Roosevelt, many are at a loss on what exactly the Canton, Ohio native accomplished.

Washington journalist, Robert W. Merry, in “Pres
Chase Parsley
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Robert W. Merry shines a much-enlightening light on William McKinley, an often underestimated president. Possessing calm nerves and a measured demeanor (unlike successor Teddy Roosevelt), McKinley skillfully nudged political issues to their desired outcome. Like all presidents he had lots of haters (Mark Twain entertainingly being one of them), and did not make all of the right decisions (little progress on civil rights, territory status for Puerto Rico, etc.), but in my estimation he was an hon ...more
Conor O'brien
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Robert Merry has given us an inside look at an American President not much talked about but was consequential in American foreign and economic policy: William McKinley. This was a man who even though was extremely kind and affable and compassionate who was devoted to his wife harbored ambitions. He rose from a congressman to Governor to President because of his image and his popularity. It was described as the mystery of McKinley someone who while outwardly calm could get his way by pushing peop ...more
Jim Mann
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
William McKinley is an often underrated President, overshadowed in many ways by the personality of his successor, Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt himself contributed to this underestimation of McKinley, putting him down as he belittled almost everyone who wasn't as flamboyant, forceful, and militaristic as himself. Admittedly, McKinley often wasn't a bold visionary. Instead, he was cautious, believing in measured steps toward his goals. He was a superb administrator, who worked hard to do what he tho ...more
Joseph J.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: students of presidential history
William McKinley. He is notable for a tragic assassination; standing in a receiving line and shot by a deranged anarchist with a gun concealed in a bandage. He was the last of the Civil War veteran Presidents. His abbreviated term spanned two centuries, right into the gung-ho imperialism and expansionism so advocated by his second veep and successor, Teddy Roosevelt. Robert Merry's book follows Kevin Phillips smaller volume in the Times series an the attempt to raise McKinley from mediocrity in ...more
Wanda Keith
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When people think of our great Presidents they don't often think of President McKinley. They might remember him as being one of our assassinated Presidents but they don't know about the many things he did during his Presidency. He started a push for the gold standard, annexed Hawaii, destruction of the Spanish Empire and consolidation of America's Caribbean influence, rescue of Cuba, push for Philippines and Guam, open door policy with China, fair trade policy, momentum toward Isthmian Canal, an ...more
Barbara Baker
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Politics don’t interest me much, but people do. I found the first part of the book fascinating as it described the early life of McKinley himself, and I grew to admire him, his love for his wife, his high standards of behavior, and his religious beliefs in Jesus Christ. As the book progressed, my interest waned when politics and political events were described in detail. I finally skipped to the end and read of the president’s assassination and of the concern he expressed for his wife at the ver ...more
Robert McKinley
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKinley An Underestimated President

A more comprehensive exploration of William McKinley's life than Karl Rove's earlier recent work on the President. However, both authors reached the same conclusion about him: he was much more his own man and accomplished more to shape the presidential politics and Destiny of America in the 20th Century, than he has been given credit for by past historians. Merry gives all of us a new appreciation of President McKinley's contribution to America's greatest, eve
Shawn Slattery
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fantastic view of a oft forgotten president. McKinley is an interesting character in American history, as he subtly manipulated and responded to the challenges of his era, versus the flashy in your face style of his successor Teddy Roosevelt. This is what makes an otherwise very accomplished president forgotten, even though his legacy lasts even today when we look at Puerto Rico or the Phillipines' (or even Cuba's) relationship with the united states.

If you like learning about our non-Rushmore
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency
  • President James Buchanan: A Biography
  • John Quincy Adams: American Visionary
  • The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made
  • Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
  • Garfield
  • Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur (Signature)
  • Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President
  • The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s
  • The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams
  • Warren G. Harding (The American Presidents, #29)
  • Franklin Pierce
  • Benjamin Harrison (The American Presidents, #23)
  • T.R.: The Last Romantic
  • Coolidge
  • John Tyler
  • Gerald R. Ford (The American Presidents, #38)
  • Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy
Robert W. Merry (born 1946) is an American journalist, publishing executive, commentator, and author. He is the editor of The American Conservative.

Robert W. Merry was born in 1946 in Tacoma, WA. He served three years in the U.S. Army, including two years as a counterintelligence special agent in West Germany. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in journalism in