There has long been a need for a biography of the man who played so important a role in the four presidential administrations of Polk, Taylor, Pierce, and Buchanan. Mr. Shenton tackles this task expertly. Out of extensive research he presents the controversial politician with sympathy and accuracy:- the young lawyer who engaged in numerous speculative activities and who later won international respect as Secretary of the Treasury; the expansionist and clever politician who splintered the ranks of the Democratic party to further his political interests and who earned Horace Greeley's wrath for his exploitation of sectionalism; and the older man whose efforts to save the Union earned the Tribune's respect. This book is a fascinating and valuable account of the man and his period. Everyone interested in the American past will find pleasure and instruction in this admirable biography of a virtual unknown.