Edwin P. Hoyt's outstanding biographies of John Quincy Adams and Grover leveland are notable for their balanced examinations of the political issues faced by these Presidents. The author discusses Van Buren (one of the least written about of Presidents) as a victim of circumstances (some of which he helped create but all of which no one man could control). First, he shows the development of a completely political operator through his career in early 19th century New York State politics--including the post of attorney general and later governor. After going to the U.S. Senate, Van Buren became a protege of Andrew Jackson and part of his cabinet as secretary of state. His use of political power made him important, articulate enemies, such as Clay and Calhoun, who condemned in Van Buren the condoned modus operandi of the day. ""Fat and Jolly"" as an incoming President, Van Buren's biggest mistake was essentially a political one -- the determination to continue the fiscal policies of Andrew Jackson which resulted in widespread financial panic. Further deviled by Indian trouble and his stand on the Texas territorial question, Van Buren was defeated for re-election with a reputation as a plunderer. He attempted an unsuccessful comeback but achieved a lasting obscurity by the time of his death in 1862.