The Most Famous Man in America

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Most Famous Man in America:

Stanford was ridiculous when it was founded!

Quick synopsis:

The biography of famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Does the name sound vaguely familiar? You probably know his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Americans forget that the separation of church and state was not always the norm. In Beecher’s time, many states had official, state-sponsored religions.

My Take on The Most Famous Man in America:

Who the heck was Henry Ward Beecher and is this book title a joke? Thankfully, Debby Applegate is here to explain.

Henry Ward Beecher was the son of a very famous preacher whose offspring are a who’s who of 1800s America. I’m not even including Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote one of the most important American novels ever. There were also abolitionists, women’s right advocates, other preachers, and businessmen in the family.

Henry Ward Beecher started out as the black sheep. He didn’t align well with the fire and brimstone view of Christianity and focused on God’s love rather than his wrath. It made him many enemies, but also made him one of the most famous people around. The tabloid frenzy he caused later in life helped, too. But no spoilers.

Debby Applegate won the Pulitzer Prize for this book and it’s very clear why. She dives deep into Beecher’s life, and you feel like a fly on the wall through the whole thing. It’s a long book which never feels slow (my favorite!).


A great book that any nerd can enjoy. Read it! Buy it here!

If You Liked This Try:

The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate