Review: Booklist

Alfred E. Smith
The Happy Warrior

Booklist, 2002

Finan....has written an absorbing and provocative biography of a significant but frequently ignored political figure. Smith was often dismissed by his opponents as an amiable dolt. Finan convincingly asserts that Smith was an intense, savvy politician with a great gasp of how to manipulate the levers of power. Although he had been marinated in the Tammany Hall school of political patronage, he would prove to be a frustratingly independent thinker and operator. His break with Roosevelt, often dismissed as a matter of sour grapes, actually stemmed from an almost Jeffersonian suspicion of centralized power. Finan superbly examines the rise and ultimately sad fall of a difficult but admirable man.

– Jay Freeman