As a president Grover Cleveland stands out for a number of reasons. In an era of Republican domination of the presidency, he was the only Democrat to occupy the office between the Civil War and the Progressive Era. The nature of Gilded Age politics also meant that he was the only president ever to occupy it for two non-consecutive terms, a feat that is hard to imagine will ever be duplicated. More recently, for people with libertarian political leanings, Cleveland has also emerged as a model for what an American president should be: honest and committed to both federal and executive restraint.
No biography of Cleveland better exemplifies this than Alyn Brodsky. His book is less a study of the life and career of our nation's 22nd and 24th president than it is a celebration of it, highlighting those traits as virtues celebrating his character.Yet while well-written, Brodsky's book is far too partisan to be convincing. In seeking to praise Cleveland he attempts to spin flaws as virtues, often with little regard for the circumstances in which Cleveland operated. As a result, Brodsky's book is perhaps better classified as hagiography than biography, as readers seeking a better (if still partisan) assessment of Cleveland's life and career would be better served turning to Allan Nevins's older, but still serviceable Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage.