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Synopsis

To the list of John Updike’s well-intentioned protagonists—Rabbit Angstrom, George Caldwell, Piet Hanema, Henry Bech—add James Buchanan, seen above as a young Congressman in the 1820’s, and on the front cover as the harried fifteenth President of the United States (1857-1861).  In a play meant to be read, Buchanan’s political and private lives are represented as aspects of his spiritual life, whose crowning, condensing act is the act of dying.  A wide-ranging Afterword rounds out the dramatic portrait of one of America’s lesser known, and least appreciated, leaders.

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