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).
Merry, president and editor-in-chief of Congressional Quarterly Inc., offers a wide-ranging, provocative analysis of the controversial presidency of James K. Polk. Using a broad spectrum of published and archival sources, Merry depicts Polk as an unabashed expansionist. His political career was devoted to extending American power across the continent. Polk saw the fulfillment of manifest destiny as transcending even the festering issue of slavery. Elected president in 1844, he pursued confrontational diplomacy with Britain, structured a war with Mexico and enlarged the U.S. by over a third, essentially to its present boundaries, in a single term of office. Polk's achievements were correspondingly controversial across the political spectrum. Merry uses congressional debates and newspaper quotations to depict the genesis of a fundamental, enduring debate on America's nature and role. Conceding Polk's "personal lapses and his least impressive traits." Merry makes a strong case that Polk's America embraced a sweeping vision of national destiny that he fulfilled. Merry's conclusion that history turns not on morality but on power, energy and will may be uncomfortable, but he successfully illustrates it. 16 pages of b&w photos; 1 map.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I Learned a Lot
Wow, I learned a lot about how we got most of the western lands in Polk's single term. I'd say he has to be one of the the five top presidents. The book will show us for what we were back then.
Country of Vast Design
This book illuminates President Polk and all the characters during a time do expansion. I feel better having read this book as an American.
Excellent book to see the political tenacity require to propel America's growth. The book provided a clear description of the times, vision, and struggles using relevant supporting information. A great look at a period of American history caught between the shadows cast by the birth of the nation and the Civil War. Polk got a lot done in one term.