Professor Robert J. Rayback’s history of Millard Fillmore is still the best biography of the 13th President of the United States. In one of the many unexplained, unfortunate quirks of history, most of the official papers of Fillmore’s administration were destroyed by his son. Scholars have consequently been denied the source material which is so essential to examining and gaining insight into the underlying truth of a Presidency. Regarding Fillmore, the few records that do survive can only be compiled piecemeal, a laborious task which few have had the stamina to undertake. Thus is the historical importance of Robert J. Rayback’s authoritative biography, which gives documented substance to Fillmore and his three years in office. Thoughtful and objective, Rayback’s balanced portrayal lauds Fillmore’s astuteness, as in sending Matthew Perry to open Japan to trade, and assays his faults, such as agreeing to run on the “Know Nothing” ticket in 1856. We see, as John Lord O’Brian, former regent of the University of the State of New York noted, “a devoted patriot who in all activities sought guidance from his own conscience during the critical events of the mid-nineteenth century.” Julius Pratt of the University of Buffalo concludes from the book that “without Fillmore there could have been no Lincoln.”-Print ed.