This Pulitzer Prize-winning biography brings the fascinating, flawed figure of Henry Ward Beecher to new life, placing him at the center of the key dramas of the American 19th century—including the advent of the pulp novel and tabloid press.
... [an] excellent biography ... Applegate, a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale, tells this grand story with aplomb, intelligence and a sure feel for historical context ... Besides her deep knowledge of 19th-century culture and politics, Applegate adeptly gets to the core of her subject's character, often with telling quotations ... At times, however, her narrative loses its force in a thicket of personal details. This is especially true when she writes about Beecher's erotic adventuring ... Yet by illuminating Beecher's position in history, Applegate has produced a biography worthy of its subject.
In her exhaustively researched and endlessly fascinating The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, Debby Applegate brings the charismatic Beecher and his times vividly to life. She skillfully weaves the intense personal life of her subject with the dynamic religious, social and political history of the period, and shows how Beecher, with his amiable personality and oratorical and writing talents, was able to gain a large audience for his views ... This is a major biography of an important, if seriously flawed, figure who made significant contributions to public and religious life in his time.