Scott Farris (author); ALMOST PRESIDENT; Lyons Press (Nonfiction: Political Science) $24.95 ISBN: 9780762763788
Byline: Karl Helicher
"History is written by the victors, but to ignore the contributions made by losing presidential candidates is to warp our understanding of American history," says the author in this enlightening and appealing narrative about politicians unfairly called also-rans. The nine losing presidential candidates who Farris concludes made the greatest contributions to political change -- Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Ross Perot -- receive their own chapters, while Al Gore, John McCain, and John Kerry are discussed in one chapter, and others are described in the Appendix.
The earliest losing candidates, as the reader will quickly note, led movements for major political change while the country was young and political factions were evolving into the modern Democratic and Republican parties. Henry Clay, "the greatest legislator in American history," according to the author, set the framework for liberalism and the Republican Party of Lincoln. Stephen Douglas lost the 1860 election to Lincoln but established the precedent for the loyal opposition, which allowed Lincoln to govern the wartime nation with more authority than he would have had without Democrats constructively...