And Tyler No More
by Stan Haynes

"He had struck a blow, albeit a small one, against slavery."

Historical fiction should make a reader smarter. This one does. Those who want to be thoroughly entertained while learning some political history along the way should dive in and enjoy. The story, reminiscent of Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton but circa the 1840s-50s, is riveting and astounding, both in the facts and the fictional mystery the author spins.

The book imagines the life of the fictitious politician Montgomery Tolliver, beginning his career as an aide to the real Henry Clay. Readers learn of a plot to kill President Tyler because of how his policies were about to affect slavery. In real life, Tyler's administration was responsible for annexing Texas, which didn't help the abolitionist movement, thereby setting the United States back in regard to the advancement of equality in the nation's history.

Haynes is a talented author. He does a superb job describing a scene before a slave auction. It is frankly hard to read but illustrates phenomenal expertise, written in such excruciating detail that readers want to look away: "he could see the faces of some.... Faces of despair. Men stared into the distance.... Mothers held their children tightly.... All had a look of helplessness…. Monty felt physically ill." There is some deep philosophy included between these pages, too. For example, Clay said that any plot to murder due to political differences was immoral, even if it meant saving slaves or pursuing the greater good. Historical fiction about the national political scene during this period is rare, but this book proves there are still great stories from the time to be told.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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