William McKinley : American Presidents

  • by Kevin Phillips, Arthur M. Schlesinger
  • Narrated by Richard Rohan
  • Series: American Presidents
  • 5 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A best-selling historian and political commentator reconsiders McKinley’s overshadowed legacy....
By any serious measurement, best selling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power. McKinley was one of eight presidents who, either in the White House or on the battlefield, stood as principals in successful wars, and he was among the six or seven to take office in what became recognized as a major realignment of the U.S. party system.
Phillips argues that McKinley’s lackluster ratings have been sustained not by unjust biographers but by years of criticism about his personality, indirect methodologies, middle-class demeanor, and tactical inability to inspire the American public. In this powerful and persuasive biography, Phillips musters convincing evidence that McKinley’s desire to heal, renew prosperity, and reunite the country qualify him for promotion into the ranks of the best chief executives.


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William McKinley (1843-1901) was president from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. He was the twenty-five president of the United States. McKinley was a strong governor of Ohio and a decisive president whose stern looks hid a thoughtful and gentle man. William McKinley was a Civil war veteran and a Lincoln Republican.

Phillip details how McKinley presided over the emergence of the United States as a world power in the Spanish-American war. McKinley’s election in 1890 ushered in approximately forty years of Republican political dominance.

Phillip points out that McKinley was one of eight presidents, who either in the White House or on the battlefield, led the nation in successful Wars; and he was among the six or seven to take office in what become recognized as a major realignment of the United States’ party system. McKinley was among the sixteen United States presidents elected to two terms, and avoided the tarnish of major scandal.

The author points out that McKinley was a “hinge president,” whose first term ushered in the 20th century, and who ‘presided over the fruition of the Northern or Yankee version of U.S. expansionism, a commercial manifest destiny tied to increasing American exports.’
In 1901 McKinley was assassinated by a deranged anarchist’. McKinley’s vice president Theodore Roosevelt took over the presidency and carried on McKinley’s moderate platform. Roosevelt’s charisma overshadowed McKinley over historical time.

This book is more of a political analysis of William McKinley rather than a biography as Phillips tell what other historians have written about McKinley and argues with many of them. The book is narrated by Richard Rohan.
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- Jean

Ends Certain Misperceptions about McKinley

Where does William McKinley rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book is a few years old and can drag on occasions. It cites a lot of facts and requires some knowledge of Reconstruction Era/Gilded Age American history to fully appreciate. But it covers and era that is not well-studied, but has strong parallels to the present.

What was one of the most memorable moments of William McKinley?

Understanding how McKinley was not an arch-conservative and laid the groundwork for the modern progressive movement.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


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- Eckhart

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-31-2011
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio