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)
According to Unger, Monroe almost single handily saved America during the War of 1812 and ushered in a post-partisan era of good-feelings. Unger describes pre-cotton slavery as a 'paternalistic' institution (with no hint of sarcasm) and provides an extremely lopsided account of US, native American wars - describing the atrocities that Native Americans committed but not those of the US.
Yet despite Unger's (very) skewed narrative, I found the book fun to listen to. He makes early America come to life in a way that more reflective biographies often fail to.
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.
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.
I've read a couple of books about James Madison- this book portrays him as weak minded, which I find odd. A lot of hero worship, but worth the time.
Thereading was excellent. the writing itself is very favorable to Monroe. It seems like your ferret has a huge man crush on James Monroe. Aside from that, the book was well-written and enjoyable.
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