TEACHER, SOLDIER, PRESIDENT: The Life of James A. Garfield by Bill Severn

TEACHER, SOLDIER, PRESIDENT: The Life of James A. Garfield

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The 20th President of the U. s. presents major problems to any biographer because of his three separate, successful careers. These are intensified for any biographer writing at the juvenile level because of the necessity to explain the political history of Garfield's era just before during and immediately following the Civil War. Mr. Severn has done a competent joband this biography moves steadily forward. The idealistic and prominent teacher of mid-19th centry Ohio becomes the ager anti-slavery state politician. In discussing this phase of Garfield's life, the issues and the temper of the times emerge. Garfield as a soldier presents the opportunity for good, adventure story telling, because his service as a volunteer was distinguished by well-fought battles and ready promotions. The most difficult eatures of this subject are the years spent in the House of Representatives. Mr. Sovern manages to untangle some of the really snarled politics of an era characterized by the spoils system and rampant bossism. Garfield was neither saint nor sinner, but a regular Republican of the time, a good party man, and he is not described as any more than that. His first 6 months in the Presidency show the successful start against the power of boss Roscoo Conkling and for the reform of civil service. Assassinated by a disappointed office seeker, the lingering death and the sense of loss to the country and history are handled with restraint.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1964
Publisher: Ives Washburn