Harlow Giles Unger’s new biography of John Quincy Adams is well-written and superbly researched. The book is fast paced and supremely readable while not missing any aspect of JQA’s life. Unger seamlessly weaves the words of Adams into his narrative and Unger’s always solid research augments the story that it seems like JQA helps tell. John Quincy Adams wrote in a diary daily from age 10 to death, this along with the massive correspondence between JQA and his parents John and Abigail Adams, together with the massive amount of reports JQA submitted during his career, Unger put it all together into a fascinating biography. There is so much information in this book it is hard to even highlight the information.
John and Abigail Adams saw to the education of their first born son and by the time he was ten years old he was fluent in Latin and Greek. He was already well read in Shakespeare and other leading literature of his day. He accompanied his father to Europe when he was 12 years old and spent his teenage years in Europe meeting all the key political, military, authors, philosophers’ people of the day. He became fluent in Greek, Latin, English, French, Dutch, Russian, German, Spanish, and Italian and learned some Swedish. JQA attended Leiden University in the Netherlands and when he returned to Boston he went to Harvard. He “read the law” with a prominent Boston attorney and was admitted to the Bar. JQA was American Ambassador to six European countries, negotiated the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. Served eight years as Secretary of State, engineered the annexation of Florida, and wrote the core provision of the Monroe Doctrine warning European’s never again to try to colonize the Western World. He also wrote the Constitution of Massachusetts. John Quincy Adams is considered by scholars to be the best diplomat this country has had to date.
As an attorney JQA defended the African prisoners of the Spanish slave ship Amistad. JQA argued they had been kidnapped and had a legal right to defend themselves and attempt to escape from their kidnappers. Adams successfully defended the case before the Supreme Court. The only unsuccessful period in the long history of JAQ was his presidency. I had learned in school it was because he was unable to relate to the people because he was too educated. Unger points out that JQA angered Andrew Jackson because he though Adams cheated him out of the presidency. Jackson created a new political party called Democrats or Jacksonian Democrats. Unger shows how they deliberately shut the government down so Adams was unable to have bills passed or appointments made. The only major accomplishment was he almost cleared the federal debt.
JQA is the only former President that went on to serve in Congress. JQA belonged to no political party. He served 16 years as the representative from Massachusetts. When in Congress JQA defended Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial. Chase was accused of sedition and treason (high crimes and misdemeanors). Adams argued that the charges brought against Chase were indictable criminal acts—not political statements. He said “This is a party prosecution”. Adams defense of Chase proved the earliest significant defense of the first amendment. John Quincy obtained an acquittal of Chase and prevented an American President (Jefferson) from criminalizing political dissent. JQA ensured the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, from an endowment from a British Lord. He protected the principal and the institution can use the interest. He spurred the construction of a net work of astronomical observatories across the nation. Adams risked death by championing abolition and emancipation as a congressman.
John Quince Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of an American diplomat/merchant and an English mother. She was born in London. They were married at the church of “All Hallows by the tower” in London. Louisa is the only first lady not to be born in the United States. In 1878 John Quincy Adam’s youngest son, Charles Frances Adams built the first memorial presidential library in the U.S. to honor his father. The library is located in Quincy Ma.
On the personal side I noted JQA suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life. Louisa had many miscarriages and suffered from migraine headaches. I noted she had bouts of depression starting when they lived in the White House. Apparently alcoholism ran in the family from Abigail’s side of the family. JQA brother’s died of it as did one of his sons. One son “read the law” with Daniel Webster. One of the things I observed in the book was both John Q and Louisa were prodigious readers and preferred to stay home and read. I noticed Unger pointed out that reading was considered a method of education in those days. I found this to be a most enjoyable book I learned so much from it about Adams, his family and general history of the time. Unger is a noted historian and an excellent writer. Johnny Heller did a good job narrating the book.
I have been fascinated with Winston S. Churchill since I was a child. I try to read everything I can find about him. I was shocked to read in the book that the young people in Britain do not know who Churchill was. Johnson said he wanted to write about Churchill in such a manner as to bring Churchill to the attention of the young. Johnson thought the young might enjoy Churchill’s eccentricity.
This book is written by the current Mayor of London. The element of self-identification in Johnson’s writing is too obvious to ignore. This book is not just another biography. Rather, it is a series of polemics in which Johnson takes up the cudgels against Churchill’s critics.
One of the allegations against Churchill is that he wasn’t very nice to the little people in his life. That in private he was a mean-spirited and short tempered. Johnson relays a story to rebut this charge, told to him by Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson. Johnson also discusses the accusation that Churchill was an unprincipled opportunist and he also addresses the charge of incompetent leadership during World War One that led to Gallipoli. Johnson also discusses Churchill’s literary output and explains how Churchill managed to fit all this into a busy life.
Johnson has created a canvas of more than just World War II but also looks at Churchill’s contributions in the Boer War, WWI and the period leading up to the start of the European Union and shown how, at each point, Churchill’s contributions were essential to Britain’s victories or were ignored by those in power resulting in decisions that left Britain far worse off than it could have been. Johnson also addresses Churchill’s work on behalf of the working poor in the UK, his efforts to improve the living and working conditions of the poor throughout the British Empire.
The book is written with wit, and reveals fascinating nuggets of information I found fascinating. I believe Johnson has been successful in his defense of Churchill as a uniquely great man. Simon Shepherd narrated the book.
This is a novella #3.5 in the Longknife series. Kris and her crew are tasked to set up a training command for foreign navies buying Wardhaven’s fast attack boats.
Kris’s body guard, who works for the Secret Service is drafted into the Marines. This is explained in humorous detail. This adds lots more detail of how Jack got into the marines.
I am enjoying the series and that also includes the novella. Please note it is best to read this series in order, otherwise you will feel lost. I am enjoying the banter that goes on between the key characters. This short story fits in well between book number three and book number four.
I am enjoying the adventures of Kris Longknife and I would to have my own Nelly. This is a fun easy read. Dina Pearlman narrated the story.
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment –Delta (SFOD-D) is the military’s formal name for Delta Force. The Department of the Army has Delta Force and the Department of the Navy created the SEALS during World War II.
The book is divided into three sections. The first is about the SAS (British), the second is about the creation of Delta Force and the third or last section of the book is about the U.S. hostages in Iran.
Beckwith tells about the year he spent with the British Special Air Service (SAS) and thought the U.S. needed to fill the void and create its own special force. This unit would be an elite counter terrorist unit.
The middle section is about the meetings and Army politics Beckwith had to deal with to create the Unit. The book has to do with the formation of Delta Force, and as with any organization I am sure Delta Force has changed over time. Beckwith includes information about his two tours in Viet Nam and the use of Special Forces.
The last part of the book is about the selection and training of the members of Delta Force. Beckwith goes into the planning and training for its first mission, the rescue of the U.S. hostages in Iran. The ill fated mission was aborted.
Beckwith is a highly decorated soldier, and his skill in shepherding his idea through the various obstacles placed by the Army, creates an interesting memoir. Alan Sklar narrated the book.
I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell's stories. I got hooked on Richard Sharpe and from there have read many of his other series including this exciting series of old England. This is book eight in the Saxon series of historical fiction that chronicles the making of England and is set in the eighth century England. The protagonist of the story is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. England is now fractured, torn apart by internal fighting since the death of King Alfred and the threat of a Viking invasion.
The ruler of Mercia is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. His wife, Ethelflaed is the daughter of King Alfred and is a formidable fighter and leader, but no woman has ever ruled over an English Kingdom. With Uhtred’s help Ethelflaed attempts to gain control of the throne of Mercia. The fight for the Mercia throne leaves an opportunity for the rival West Saxons to siege Mercia. Edward of Wessex is distracted by the two heirs claiming his throne. Will the Viking’s take advantage and invade?
Uhtred is older and recovering from a near fatal injury ( see book 7 The Pagan Lord) facing more turbulent times and intrigue that sees him doing what he does best-leading a war band.
Cornwell creates a sense of the historical place and time that comes through well, clearly the book is well-researched. The main characters continue to be well developed. Cornwell is truly the master of the battle scene. Cornwell leaves me waiting breathlessly for the next book in the series. Matt Bates narrates the book.
In reading this book I have learn a great deal of information about the life and work of Patrick Henry. Henry was mentioned in every biography I have read of the time frame, from George Washington to James Madison, Henry was discussed in the book but only in passing. Historians have paid the most attention to the founding fathers that attained the presidency. At the bottom of the bag, nowadays are those founders who were important for a brief period on the national level but whose working career was at the local level. Henry was the first governor of Virginia. People like Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry did not get much attention.
Harlow Giles Unger, an historian and former visiting fellow at Mount Vernon, has written a delightful biography that tries to rectify the prior lack of attention paid to Patrick Henry. The author provides an insightful glimpse into the life and work of one of the most important men who helped bring about the creation of the American republic.
Unger provides an overview of the life of Henry. The book is not a comprehensive biography. The author delves into the key events in Henry’s life explaining how the episodes discussed helped to shape Henry’s work and approach to politics. The book covers Henry’s earliest days as a backwoods lawyer. Unger covers Henry’s friendships and family life (he fathered 18 children) as well as his relationship with George Washington.
What I found most interesting was the discussion of some of Henry’s cases as a lawyer. For example, Henry argues in defense of a group of famer’s who had refused to pay the Church tax to support the established Anglican Church of Virginia colony. Henry’s opposition to what he saw as both a violation of religious liberty and the freedom of the people to be secure against oppressive taxation by distant imperial and colonial governments.
Unger’s book is a fascinating study of one of the most colorful and important public men of the founding era. If you are interested in the formation of this country this is a book to read. William Hughes narrated the book.
This is book three in the Thomas Kydd series of historical nautical fiction. Stockwin’s richly detailed portrait of life on ship and shore during the Napoleonic Wars is engrossing. He writes of shipboard routine, the panic and confusion of combat and the terrifying approach of a hurricane at sea. Stockwin writes from the view point of a common sailor in the 18th century British Navy. It is all here the cramped conditions, the disgusting food, the underserved punishment and cruelty of some officers and the unremitting toil.
From the beginning of the book we are plunged into a fast paced series of actions. The manic plot encompasses four battles, three courts of naval inquiry, two hurricanes, two shark attacks, a shipwreck, yellow fever, and rescue of French Royalist and a few floggings and dinner parties.
Kydd goes from an ordinary sailor to a Master’s mate, picking up along the way the navigational skills and drawing room manners of an officer and a gentleman. The setting of the story is in the Caribbean as Britain and France fight over the West Indies in about 1795. Christian Rodska does his usual great job in narrating the story.
Michael Deaver is a long time Reagan staffer and he was the liaison between the Reagan staff and Nancy Reagan. Deaver states that Nancy Reagan had only one goal in life that was to support and protect Ronald Reagan. Deaver says her life was always about Ronnie.
The first part of the book covers her early life. She was born Anne Frances Robbins July 6 1921. Her nickname was Nancy. Nancy’s mother was the famous stage actress Edith Luckett (1880-1987) she did not know her father. In 1929 her mother married neurosurgeon Loyal Davis (1896-1982). They lived in Chicago and Nancy legally changed her name to Davis. Nancy graduated from Smith Collage in 1943: she majored in English and drama. As an actress she appeared on Broadway and later was contracted for film with MGM. She was in many films and retired from acting in 1962. She married Reagan in 1952 and had two children Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott Reagan.
Deaver covers the time from Governor to President mostly from Nancy viewpoint. He shows how she went from a reluctant and hesitate speaker into a polished speaker. The author reveals Nancy as a reluctant politician’s wife but he shows how she applied herself to learn the job. Deaver says she was a direct, impatient person and as such some people felt she was intimidating.
The last part of the book covers their life living with Alzheimer disease and the toll it took on them. This is not a comprehensive biography of Nancy Reagan nor is there any pushing of a political agenda. It is primarily a personal and moving tribute to Nancy Reagan by a person who worked with her daily over more than 35 years. The book provides a look into the life of Nancy Reagan and what she thought was most important in her life. I enjoyed learning about Nancy's life as first lady. The author narrated the book.
This is book five in the Longknife series. Navy Lieutenant Kristine Longknife, Princess of Wardhaven is going on vacation to the planet New Eden. Of course, her family assigns her various diplomatic and military obligations while on the planet. These jobs are to stand around looking pretty during diplomatic occasions and dealing with paperwork.
Two assassination attempts convince Kris and her bodyguard Jack something is wrong in New Eden. They dig deeper into the planet society and find a deeply conflicted planet on the verge of a revolution. Those who tried to kill Kris picked on the wrong person as Kris shoots back. They also find that as the planet falls into chaos the Peterwald are trying to take over the planet.
More is revealed about Abbeys past in this book. Seem the author is gradually peeling away Abbeys mysterious background in each book. The characters are interesting and the plot is full of twists and peppered liberally with sharply described action. The pace of the story is fast. As with each book the author sprinkles the book liberally with humor. Every time I read one of the books in this series I become more fascinated with Kris’s computer Nelly. I would love to have a Nelly of my own. Dina Pearlman narrated the book.
This is a well written and meticulously researched biography about the grandson of Paul Revere the iconic figure of the American Revolution.
The first part of the book covers Revere’s prewar (Civil War) life, his stint as a naval officer in the Mexican-American War, his attempt to profit from the California Gold Rush. The author also provided some California history in this section of the book. Chemerka includes Revere’s role as an artillery consultant to Mexico’s president.
The last part of the book covers the Civil War. In 1861 Review joins the Union Army and took command of the 7th New Jersey Infantry. Chemerka traces the 7th’s organization under Revere’s leadership. Revere was promoted to Brigadier General and commander of the Excelsior Brigade. The author reviews Revere’s performance as leader of the Excelsior’s and his poor performance at Chancellorsville.
Chemerka covers the Court Marshall resulting from Chancellorsville for poor performance. Chemerka includes discussions that might appeal to Civil War historians interested in examining the conflict from nontraditional angles. The author offers insight into how soldiers reacted to natural environment and how their surroundings impacted their duties. Chemerka also illustrates how the uncertainty of war stimulates men. This is a great book for those interested in the Civil War. Wayne Hughes narrated the book.
Apparently this is book two of a series entitled Moonshine Mystery which I was unaware of when I choose this book to read. The title is what intrigue me to pick up the book.
The story takes place in a small town in Virginia. Our protagonist is Daisy McGovern who after her husband left her decided to convert the local diner into a bakery. She calls the bakery “Sweetie Pies.” Daisy’s best friend Brenda helps her achieve her goals.
While Brenda is baking in the kitchen of the bakery, three men enter to rob the store. Brenda manages to stab one of the robbers in self defense; the other two robbers take off with 90 pounds of cream cheese and crates. In the search for the identity of the dead man and catch the robbers the story takes us into the area of moonshine, gun slingers, and stolen historic maps.
The story is well written with a cast of colorful characters including eccentric mountain men. The book is also full of southern charm. The author adds a bit of humor to the story unfortunately the story drags a bit at times.
This is an easy to read book that makes a good get away from it all book. Erin Bennett narrated the book.
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