Despite enjoying the rare distinction of having served as president of the United States, Rutherford Hayes is usually dismissed as one of the indistinguishably undistinguished Gilded Age occupants of that office. Ari Hoogenboom's biography of the 19th president challenges such treatment. In it, the author offers an account of Hayes's life and political career that shows him to be a humane person whose efforts to do more for African Americans and the other causes of his era were frustrated by political circumstances. Yet Hoogenboom is only partly successful in his effort to rehabilitate Hayes's reputation, for while he shows his subject to have been a surprisingly modern figure in terms of his views on the issues of his day, Hayes's ineffectiveness as president ultimately limits a complete revision. As a result, Hayes comes across as something of a disappointment, a man who was unable to alter the course of events. In this respect, Hoogenboom's book is useful not only as a study of Hayes but as an account of the limits of the presidency in Gilded Age America, albeit one that some readers might find longer than was necessary.