Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Bauer assesses Zachary Taylor as ``a man of limited emotional and intellectual capacity'' behind ``a nearly impenetrable mask.'' The mask is lifted only slightly in this new biography. Although Bauer purports to show ``part of Taylor's life that shaped his later actions,'' this account adds little to what we already know from Holman Hamilton's two-volume Zachary Taylor (1941-51), and Hamilton is far better on the White House years. But so little Taylor correspondence has survived that he must remain an enigma to any biographer. Bauer confirms that he was a competent small-unit army commander, a wrong-headed, stubborn president, and a poor politician. For scholars who need a one-volume life. Thomas E. Schott, Office of History, Engineering Installation Div., Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Zachary Taylor was a professional soldier, an unusual occupation for an American in the pre-Civil War era. He won some minor acclaim as an officer during the War of 1812 and, after the war, stayed in the army. The picture that emerges of Taylor is that of a narrow, jealous, competent soldier whose career is typical for that time: a series of slow promotions and minor wars, including service in the Blackhawk and Seminole wars. His assignment to the Mexican border was based purely on his availability. At no point does Bauer accuse Taylor of imagination or military ability in those maneuvers that led to the outbreak of the Mexican War or in his four successful battles. As a result of the fighting in northern Mexico, Taylor emerged as a presidential possibility. Since he had never voted, it was not clear to his contemporaries for which party Taylor would serve as a candidate. Taylor became the Whig candidate in 1848, in part because of support from southern Whigs. As President, however, he did not act as a southerner or a slaveholder; rather, he acted as a nationalist. He took an extreme hard line to threats of disunion and opposed most of the Compromise of 1850, although he died during its debates. A very solid study, based on the most recent scholarship and written authoritatively. Excellent bibliography. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries, community college level and up.-I. Cohen, Illinois State University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
K. Jack Bauer (1926?1987) was a professor of history at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and the author or editor of many books on American military history, including The Mexican War, 1846?1848, American Secretaries of the Navy, and U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Bases.