Review of “President James Buchanan: A Biography” by Philip Klein

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

President James Buchanan: A Biography ” is Philip Klein’s 1962 classic biography of our fifteenth president. Born into a family of historians, he grew up in Lancaster County, PA near where Buchanan was raised a century earlier. Klein earned a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania and was a professor at Penn State; he died in 1993.

Klein suggests this biography is actually a scaled-down version of the book he originally set out to write. Nevertheless it is a broad, extensive and valuable look at Buchanan’s life and career. It also seems to be the only full-scale biography of Buchanan published in the one-hundred-thirty years since a two-volume documentary work was published by Buchanan’s heirs.

Rather than adding another voice to the chorus of historians vilifying Buchanan for failing to slow the nation’s march to civil war – or eradicate slavery from the continent – Klein portrays…

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