Franklin Pierce: My Burden

Reading a book on every single president for this project is hard enough, but it's especially hard with the more obscure presidents.

I had thought that it had gotten about as bad as it could get when the only book I could find on Harrison was a biography from the 1930's with stilted and let's say politically incorrect language regarding Native Americans. However, this Pierce book took it to another level.

The Harrison book, racial epitaphs used by the author aside, was written by at least a decent historian. It was difficult to read because it tried way too hard to cover every aspect of Harrison's life preceding the presidency in sequential order. This includes periods of his life that might be interesting to Harrisonphiles, but not to casual readers like myself.

The Pierce book on the other hand was hard to read because it just wasn't very well written or put together. The author is well regarded for his writings on the history of American political parties and for covering politics in the 1800's, but the fact that his profile on Wikipedia omits this biography is probably a bad sign.

The fact that this book was written in the 1920's also might make this book hard to relate to as well as the fact that it was nearly 500 pages long with small print.

However, there were a few lines that made it an interesting look at an earlier period of history.

My favorite line referenced how far technology had come since the mid 1800's and marveled that a telegraph from Alaska to the East cost now (1920's) could take as little as a few hours, whereas a message from the midwest to the East Coast in Pierces time could take as long as a month.

Jefferson may have shuddered to think that God was just, but I shudder to think that the worst presidential biographies may be still ahead of me. Although books on Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR routinely make the best seller list, there's just not that many people out there that really want to dig into Chester Arthur or Rutherford B. Hayes.

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