The author of John Tyler: The Tenth President of the United States continues his reevaluation of our lesser-known presidents with this partisan but well-researched defense of Franklin Pierce. There's no question but that Pierce was a very limited man -- a rigid Jacksonian Democrat who was convinced that the rights of slaveholders were protected under the Constitution and who offered little leadership to either Congress or his Party. About all that Hoyt can do in Pierce's behalf, and he does it reasonably well, is to demonstrate that Pierce was neither a coward nor a traitor as many of his contemporaries charged and that the ""irrepressible conflict"" was in any case irrepressible. Pierce's expansionist foreign policy, which Hoyt considers his chief strength, will probably not win him many admirers today and was less than successful (Pierce negotiated with Spain to buy Cuba, but the deal fell through because ""he was so unwise as to tell too many people what he was doing""). It's not possible to admire the 14th president, but one does feel sympathy for this man whose personal life was tragic and who was caught up in events beyond his control or understanding. Large collections should find this a serviceable addition to their gallery of presidential portraits.