Top critical review
Good book with flaws
on December 9, 2017
I liked the book, told a compelling story about a great founding father. The problem with the book is the not unusual tendancy of the author to becoming a cheering section for the subject of their work, rather than a chronicler, to the point of attempting to deminish other significant persons (I presume thinking it elevates their subject) rather than just telling the story of their subject, i.e., editorializing. I guess this falls in the category of historians tend to shape history to their own view of history rather than just telling the story. Now the author may say that if I don't like the telling then I can write my own book. Fair enough, but in my view this author didn't need to be quite so one sided regarding at least one relationship, and if one that I could see, where their other incorrect representations that I knew less about that I was misguided about. Enough of the generalizations ... The specific issue I found was the author's complete dismissal of the significance of the presidency of James Madison; if fact more than just dismissal but derision of it. Madison was not there subject of the book, the rude treatment of Madison did nothing to promote Monroe, just, without sufficient explanation, dismissed Madison's presidency and accomplishments. (Long rant, but a pet peeve on histories/biography writers; much prefer more evenhanded treatment).
On other elements of the book thought the beginning a little thin (and maybe there just isn't sufficient information available to flesh out the story) but by the time the story moved into Monroe's national service years was well written and informative. The rating maybe should be a 3.5 but that's not an option, maybe even a 4 but not higher. I have much preferred McCullough or Chernow's works; any of their books).