Ex Libre 1

It is a widely known problem that a biographer’s great love for his/her subject can produce vituperation for any other similar individual. Today I came across one of the most blunt denunciations I’ve ever read in a biography. Harlow Giles Unger’s The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness closes, “One by one, President Monroe’s self-serving, politically ambitious successors undermined the national unity he created during his presidency, and during the thirty-five years that followed, the Era of Good Feelings metamorphosed into civil war.” (347). Well, nothing like a rousing generalization to close a book. There goes historical contingency.

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