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Editorial Reviews

Grover Cleveland's presidency has in many ways faded into the obscurity of American history. Charles Lachman brings Cleveland's legacy into the light once again with this true story of infidelity, cover-ups, and political intrigue. Joe Barrett's entertaining performance of A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland turns history into the stuff of theater. Lachman and Barrett together tell the tale of Grover Cleveland's illegitimate child and the ruthless measures the President took to keep his secret safe.
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Publisher's Summary

A Secret Life sets the record straight on the sex scandal that nearly took down a president.
The child was born on September 14, 1874, at the only hospital in Buffalo, New York, that offered maternity services for unwed mothers. It was a boy, and though he entered the world in a state of illegitimacy, a distinguished name was given to this newborn: Oscar Folsom Cleveland. The son of the future president of the United States - Grover Cleveland. The story of how the man who held the nation’s highest office eventually came to take responsibility for his son is a thrilling one that unfolds like a sordid romance novel - including allegations of rape, physical violence, and prostitution.
The stunning lengths that Cleveland undertook to conceal what really happened the evening of his son’s conception are truly astonishing - including forcing the unwed mother, Maria Halpin, into an insane asylum. A Secret Life also finally reveals what happened to Grover Cleveland’s son. Some historians have suggested that he became an alcoholic and died a young man - but Lachman definitively establishes his fate here for the first time.
In this gripping historical narrative, Charles Lachman sets the scandal-plagued record straight with a tightly-coiled plot that provides for narrative history at its best.
©2012 Charles Lachman (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 02-16-13

Are the charges true?

From the title of the book I thought this book would be a muckraker. Instead Charles Lachman set forth a well researched statement of the facts from both sides of the claims against Cleveland. Grover Cleveland was born March 18 1837 and had to go to work to support his family at age 16 with the death of his father. He moved to Buffalo NY to work for an uncle. He studies law and became a lawyer. Buffalo at this time was a wild dangerous frontier town. Cleveland like most of the men when to the saloon after work at dinner, drank beer, smoked cigars and played cards until bedtime. He was the D.A. of Buffalo the mayor and then the governor of New York. It was not until he ran for President that the scandal was published in the newspapers. I found the comment Cleveland, made to his staff, when the scandal broke "tell the truth" should be the backbone of all crisis management. No matter if the claims he raped Maria Halpin then had her baby taken from her and raised by someone else is true or not. His behavior of having her committed to an insane asylum was poor judgement. Lachman also covered Mark Twain's time in Buffalo as a newspaperman covering the scandal. Another quote by Cleveland I thought telling of his character was as follows "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote". Of course that was a common thought by men of the time. Cleveland married the daughter of his best friend. Cleveland and Frances Folsom married in the white house during his first term. Cleveland was the only president to see separate term as president. I was pleased with the ending of the book as Lachman carefully tied all the loose end up including what happened to the boy Oscar Folsom Cleveland. I will not reveal information about the scandal you need to read the book and make up your own mind. Joe Barrett did a good job narrating the book.

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18 of 20 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Linda Lou on 11-06-13


This is a well-researched, enlightening and entertaining account of the life of the 22nd (AND 24th) President. But it is horrible indictment on this country's political machinations and the unequal rights for women in the late 19th century. The fact that President Cleveland fathered a child out of wedlock is not nearly as shocking as his conduct after the fact. He tried to destroy the lives of a respected widow and the child of his body. His treatment and continued abuse he heaped on his "baby mama" was unconscionable even by our current and less stringent standards. It's sad to see that, at any time in the history of this nation, that a man guilty of rape, kidnapping, fraud, slander, liable, and lies could be elected to the highest office in the land. Here, Grover Cleveland is exposed as the sociopath that he was. Not only did he rape a woman before he won the White House, he married his 21 year-old ward when he was 48. The disturbing thing about the latter offense is that Cleveland had bounced the beautiful baby girl of his BFF on his sloppy fat knees and later lusted for her until she barely reached the age of consent. In the meantime, the politicians and this country's citizens brushed the rape under rug, labeling it "a consensual act perpetrated while a young man was sowing wild oats" (Grover was almost 40 years old at the time of the assault, a Sheriff, and respected lawyer - hardly a testosterone-fueled teenage). Nor did any find it inappropriate for a world leader to marry a young woman over whom he'd excercised a great deal of power and control since the day she wa born. His "courtship" began with extravagant gifts as soon as the girl was born and continued when he became her ward at age 11. (Ewww! Just thinking about it made me throw up in my mouth!!! 👎😧 He even held his wedding to his "PYT" (pretty young thing) in the White House!!! Fast forward 100 years or so when President William Clinton was damn near run out of that same venerable building over an admittedly consenting, albeit unattractive, female intern and a Havana cigar 😎. I don't get it. But YOU should get this book! It is highly informative and very entertaining considering the subject matter - The President if a the United States - is probably the most boring thing an author can choose. Unless it's a fictional character like Martin Sheen's role in "West Wing", most of our presidents are rather forgettable unless they got assassinated in office or were involved in a major sex scandal.

NOTE: The only thing that prevented me from giving this book 5-stars is after listening to well written book for 10 hours, it suddenly goes awry with an overly long uninteresting court case which seems to be "gavel to gavel" in boring testimony).

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6 of 11 people found this review helpful

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