Review of “Franklin Pierce” by Michael Holt

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Franklin Pierce ” by Michael Holt was published in 2010 and is one of the newest members of The American Presidents Series . Holt is a professor of American History at the University of Virginia and the author of a half-dozen books. Among these are “By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876” and “The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party.”

The American Presidents Series has been criticized for advancing the political views of its long-time editor, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., at the expense of a consistently objective view of history. Holt’s biography of Franklin Pierce, however, cannot be tarnished with that stain. And rather than embracing history’s dismal view of Pierce with no further effort to diagnose his failure, Holt’s biography is more intellectually substantive than its size would suggest.

Consistent with other books in the series, this biography is concise and punchy, containing just 133…

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