In this lively and compelling biography, Harlow Giles Unger reveals the dominant political figure of a generation. A fierce fighter in four critical Revolutionary War battles and a courageous survivor of Valley Forge and a near-fatal wound at the Battle of Trenton, James Monroe (1751 - 1831) went on to become America's first full-time politician, dedicating his life to securing America's national and international durability.
Decorated by George Washington for his exploits as a soldier, Monroe became a congressman, a senator, U.S. minister to France and Britain, governor of Virginia, secretary of state, secretary of war, and finally America's fifth president.
The country embraced Monroe's dreams of empire and elected him to two terms, the second time unanimously. Mentored by each of Americas first four presidents, Monroe was unquestionably the best prepared president in our history.
Like David McCullough's John Adams and Jon Meacham's recent book on Andrew Jackson, this new biography of Monroe is both a solid listen and a stellar scholarship history in the grand tradition.
©2009 Harlow Giles Unger; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"[A] cogent reexamination of a relatively neglected American icon...Unger makes a solid and cohesive argument for Monroe's importance in the early years of the United States....A worthy attempt to rescue Monroe from obscurity for a mainstream audience." (Kirkus Reviews)
"[A] well-written biography...Unger presents the fifth president as a man of independence and initiative rather than merely a disciple of Jefferson, Madison, and John Quincy Adams...Will appeal to a more popular audience, especially those who enjoy presidential history or studying the Founding Fathers. Historians and history students should read as well." (Library Journal)
America grows up
This is a book about James Monroe. His relationships. His family and the part that he had in moving the United States from 13 colonies to being a great nation from sea to sea. The author definitely is trying to convince the reader of Monroe's greatness. Sometimes it feels that the point is being pushed too hard. I have listened to about 10 biographies of the early presidents and was one of the most enjoyable.
I found Michael McConnohie very easy to listen to.
I don't listen to any book in one sitting. I listen when I am driving or traveling.
It felt like I personally knew every character, the sad moments where melancholy and equally, the triumphant moments were met with literary sentiments of victory. Superb!
And Buffalo George
Yes, the author fully admires Monroe. I guess that all that research, he came to know the subject and admires him fully...seriously, every paragraph is rife with Monroe accolades. Further, the book is full of quotes with little interpretation by the author. And, the book does cover Monroe's life; but with little analysis. Although Unger has written extensive biographies, I don't believe that I'll read more by him.
I'm sure James Monroe was a great guy and one of our best Presidents, but this book makes him out to be flawless. Every part of his life or legacy that could be seen as potentially negative is blamed on someone else. Other great men of the era are belittled in the attempt to make James Monroe seem to be the greatest person to have ever walked the planet. James Madison in particular is portrayed as incompetent, weak, and completely dependent on the mighty Monroe. History has judged the two friends and Presidents to be basically equal. The Monroe worship doesn't really start until the last third of the book. Overall it is a good depiction of the life of the 5th President, but I wold have liked it more if Monroe were depicted without the halo.
I usually can stand hagiography. I take it with a grain of salt. But this one is so over the top that I'm bailing after an hour. I think it might go down a little better in print. The melodramatic reading puts it beyond my ability to continue past the first hour.
I'd like to know more about James Monroe. But surely there's a better biography out there somewhere.
Doesn't match a McCullough or Chernow biography in quality or depth, but I'm OK with that. A little dramatic at times but again, no major complaints. The author's intent is to shine some light on a man who deserves a little more recognition in posterity, and to that effect it is as an informative and entertaining story as one can ask for.
The views expressed often border on humorous, with the story drifting into contemporary biases and rhetoric in its portrayal of characters and events. But then again, that sort of context contributes to the general schtick that the author seems to be after So again, fair game.
Thank You, Mr. Unger!
I can't believe that I was so totally unaware of the contributions of James Monroe. He has been totally eclipsed by Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, but according to Mr. Unger he may have been as instrumental as anyone in the success of the war for independence and he apparently played a large role in the Louisiana Purchase.
Without James Monroe would we even have the country we know today? It appears doubtful.
I was also unaware of the huge role he played in James Madison's administration and how successful his own two administrations were.
It is interesting that his popularity literally eliminated the two party system and may have contributed to problems in future years.
I found it a very informative read and would encourage others to learn more about James Monroe.
I'm in the process of devouring audiobooks on early American history. Thus far, I've listened to books on the first 4 presidents as well as Franklin (among others). This biography is the weakest I've encountered so far. The soaring horn intro and exit as well as the narrators deep and smooth voice bring to mind a campaign add. There seems to be very little objectivity or perspective on the part of the author. On the whole, I don't mind when an author openly admires a biography subject but at times this author glorifies Monroe at the expense of other figures like Madison and J.Q. Adams. The text is often trite and hyperbolic and riddled with political cliche's. If one is looking for a summary of Monroe's life with a decent summary of the first 50 years of U.S. history, it's not bad, but I wouldn't consider it a serious academic work.
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