Finding a biography of the fifth U.S. President was no easy task. James Monroe (he of the famous Doctrine) hasn’t been a popular topic for biographers. My choices came down to a 700-page tome, a bunch of books geared toward grade-schoolers, or this installment in “The American Presidents” series.
This slim biography has all the finesse of an eighth-grade history report. Poorly written and repetitive, the author (yes, he’s that Gary Hart) manages to make 150 pages of information feel padded. His tendency to jump back and forth in time is sloppy and confusing. And did I mention it’s repetitive? If you’re interested in a summary of Monroe’s life and achievements, simply read the conclusion of this book. It tells you everything you need to know—just once.