I am an avid eclectic reader.
Amity Shlaes has produced a scholarly look at Calvin Coolidge. It is well documented but not a dry boring story that some scholars write. The book came along at a perfect time for me as I had Coolidge on my list of people to read about in 2013. The book covers Coolidge from birth to death. He was born on July 4 1972 in Plymouth Notch Vermont and died there on January 5 1933. The Coolidge family was one of the founding families of Vermont and had the frugal hard working values of New England. He went to Amherst College and met a group of men that he maintain a lifetime friendship and appointed some to government positions. For example I was surprise to learn that Dwight Morrow was an Amherst buddy of Coolidge and he appointed him to the study the role of aviation and then appointed him Ambassador to Mexico. Morrow was the father of Anne Morrow who married Charles Lindbergh. I have a book in my wish list on Anne Morrow so I was pleased with the connection. I love it when one book provides information to another I am to read. Coolidge chose to "Read the Law" rather than go to law school. Then opened up his own practice. He was active in politics and was elected to local, then state positions. He married Grace Anna Goodhue in 1905 and she was outgoing and he was shy so she was a great first lady. She was a teacher at a school for the deaf and a good friend of Elizabeth Reeve Cutter who married Dwight Morrow. When He was governor of Massachusetts he had to deal with the Boston police strike in 1919. When president he not only balanced the budget he had a surplus which he used to pay down the national debt. He had to battle Congress as they wanted to spend the money. But his basic philosophy was to leave business alone and unregulated and all would be fine. He thought aviation was the future but thought that commercial aviation should lead the way not the military. The press noted he was key to healing the country after the scandal of Harding's presidency. I will not give away any of the story you are going to enjoy reading how and why he handled all the above plus more. Terrence Aselford did an adequate job narrating the book.
From the title of the book I thought this book would be a muckraker. Instead Charles Lachman set forth a well researched statement of the facts from both sides of the claims against Cleveland. Grover Cleveland was born March 18 1837 and had to go to work to support his family at age 16 with the death of his father. He moved to Buffalo NY to work for an uncle. He studies law and became a lawyer. Buffalo at this time was a wild dangerous frontier town. Cleveland like most of the men when to the saloon after work at dinner, drank beer, smoked cigars and played cards until bedtime. He was the D.A. of Buffalo the mayor and then the governor of New York. It was not until he ran for President that the scandal was published in the newspapers. I found the comment Cleveland, made to his staff, when the scandal broke "tell the truth" should be the backbone of all crisis management. No matter if the claims he raped Maria Halpin then had her baby taken from her and raised by someone else is true or not. His behavior of having her committed to an insane asylum was poor judgement. Lachman also covered Mark Twain's time in Buffalo as a newspaperman covering the scandal. Another quote by Cleveland I thought telling of his character was as follows "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote". Of course that was a common thought by men of the time. Cleveland married the daughter of his best friend. Cleveland and Frances Folsom married in the white house during his first term. Cleveland was the only president to see separate term as president. I was pleased with the ending of the book as Lachman carefully tied all the loose end up including what happened to the boy Oscar Folsom Cleveland. I will not reveal information about the scandal you need to read the book and make up your own mind. Joe Barrett did a good job narrating the book.
This is a true story of Alexander Dumas's father, a General in the French Army during the French Revolution. General Alex Dumas was born in Saint Dominique (Haiti) of a black slave woman and a white French Marquis. The book does discuss some of the history of Haiti. I recently read a book "Island Beneath The Sea" by Isabel Allende that covers the history of the island. If this story of Dumas interest you at all the Allende book will also be informative. I found the information about equality during the revolution interesting, the blacks found freedom in France while the U.S. and England still were slave traders. Dumas goes from commanding 53,000 men to secure the Alps for France to Egypt to being imprisoned in Naples. His story is the bases of all the stories written by his son. I was fascinated by tales of his imprisonment and the medical treatment he received. If you are interested in history you also will find this a must read book. Tome Reiss did a great job documenting the story and Paul Michael did a good job narrating the book.