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3.0 out of 5 stars The forgotten man, 4 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: Chester Alan Arthur (American Presidents (Times)) (Hardcover)
After James Garfield's assassination just 200 days into his presidency, Chester Arthur became one of America's 'accidental' Presidents, a man who not only had not been voted into the job, but also had relatively little desire for the post. Perhaps because of this discinclination to be President, Chet Arthur's tenure was one where he was disinclined to fervent promotion of causes or serious change to the system; and whilst he was a better President than many had expected when he acquired the job, he is not the most interesting of Presidents. With the relatively thin amount there is to write about Arthur, and the lack of recent works on his life; Zachary Karabell does a good job of bringing to life Arthur's kind character, his moderate support for reform and progress (including his blocking of an act which would have hurt America's Chinese immigrant community), and the struggle he had to shake free of the idea of his being from a narrow faction of a fractious Republican party.

There are a few problems with Karabell's work. The text repeats its conclusions a little too often (perhaps due to the book needing to be padded out a little; though it still stands at just 142 pages; excluding notes and timeline), and also has a tendency to focus a little too much on the likes of Blaine and Conkling, sometimes dragging the book away from the topic of Arthur for slightly too long. Still, this is a readable and fairly enjoyable work on a man who has been largely forgotten by history; and whilst Chet Arthur is neither America's most dynamic or innovative President, there's enough here to make this a worthwhile purchase for anyone interested in 19th Century America, or just looking for a readable political biography of the era.
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Chester Alan Arthur (American Presidents (Times))
Chester Alan Arthur (American Presidents (Times)) by Zachary Karabell (Hardcover - 21 Jun. 2004)
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