Friday, August 07, 2009

Franklin Pierce

by Roy Franklin Nichols

Way back when, I read the book Star-Spangled Men, a book about the worst Presidents in American history. It was that book that inspired me to embark on my presidential biography reading list. Anyway, I forget if that book had pegged Franklin Pierce as the worst president ever, or if he was merely one of the contenders for the distinction. Either way, his reputation was somewhat lacking. Heck, even in this book, Mr. Nichols--someone who is sympathetic to the 14th president--has to admit that he made some significant mistakes. This biography takes the stand that Franklin Pierce was a principaled man who had the misfortune to make the wrong political decisions. He appealed to his countrymen's sense of fair play, only to learn that they, for the most part, weren't interested in playing fair.

As for the book itself, the 1930's style adds a slight challenge to reading it, but it does flow rather smoothly. It does seem to be written for the scholar, as Mr. Nichols habitually refers to people by their last names after their initial introduction. Or maybe he was just expecting the reader to pay close attention to what they were reading. If that was the case, I, like Franklin Pierce, fell a bit short.

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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