Robert W. Merry’s book is a study of America’s 11th president within the context of the issue that dominated his presidency. Nominated based on his clear support for annexing Texas, by the time he left office he had added 600,000 square miles of territory to the nation’s boundaries. Merry provides a good narrative that describes the travails and triumphs involved in this. Yet periodically throughout the book Merry shifts his account to tangential matters, as though he wanted to broaden it into a more straightforward biographical account. This takes attention away from his ostensible focus, yet does not provide the complete treatment that Polk deserves. By trying to achieve both goals, Merry offers an interesting and readable study of Polk and American expansionism that nonetheless comes up a little bit short in satisfying readers desiring to know more about either topic.