Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Enlisting in the 23rd Ohio Infantry when Abraham Lincoln first called for volunteers, McKinley (1843-1901) was defined for the rest of his life by his experiences there, as Armstrong, a retired minister and independent scholar, shows. McKinley was 18, with no military background, but with a strong commitment to defeating secession accompanied by a principled aversion to slavery. Armstrong reveals how ability and seriousness soon took McKinley out of the ranks to an officer's commission and a series of staff jobs that prefigured his postwar career in law and politics. He bore a full share of the action seen by the 23rd OhioÄcommanded by another future president, Col. Rutherford B. HayesÄmostly waged in West Virginia. His courage and coolness in the field, his administrative skills and his unassuming, reserved personality, as Armstrong presents them, attracted the attention not only of political soldiers like Hayes, but of fire-eating battle captains like Samuel S. Carroll. The final chapter of five examines McKinley's post-1865 political and civilian life. Armstrong contends that McKinley took advantage of his status as a combat veteran to extend the hand of reconciliation to his Confederate counterparts. He played a central role in the Republican Party's abandonment of the anti-Southern "bloody shirt" policies of the immediate postwar years, and drew on his Civil War experience to shape his role as commander-in-chief during the Spanish-American War. In short, this unpretentious work makes a strong case for McKinley as the archetype of the citizen soldier as president. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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