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All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt | [John Taliaferro]

All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt

If Henry James or Edith Wharton had written a novel describing the accomplished and glamorous life and times of John Hay, it would have been thought implausible - a novelist’s fancy. Nevertheless, John Taliaferro’s brilliant biography captures the extraordinary life of Hay, one of the most amazing figures in American history, and restores him to his rightful place. John Hay was both witness and author of many of the most significant chapters in American history - from the birth of the Republican Party, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, to the prelude to the First World War.
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Publisher's Summary

If Henry James or Edith Wharton had written a novel describing the accomplished and glamorous life and times of John Hay, it would have been thought implausible - a novelist’s fancy. Nevertheless, John Taliaferro’s brilliant biography captures the extraordinary life of Hay, one of the most amazing figures in American history, and restores him to his rightful place.

John Hay was both witness and author of many of the most significant chapters in American history - from the birth of the Republican Party, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, to the prelude to the First World War. Much of what we know about Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt comes to us through the observations Hay made while private secretary to one and secretary of state to the other. With All the Great Prizes, the first authoritative biography of Hay in 80 years, Taliaferro has turned the lens around, rendering a rich and fascinating portrait of this brilliant American and his many worlds.

Hay’s friends are a who’s who of the era: Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Henry Adams, Henry James, and virtually every president, sovereign, author, artist, power broker, and robber baron of the Gilded Age. As an ambassador and statesman, he guided many of the country’s major diplomatic initiatives at the turn of the 20th century: the Open Door with China, the creation of the Panama Canal, the establishment of America as a world leader.

Hay’s peers esteemed him as “a perfectly cut stone” and “the greatest prime minister this republic has ever known”. But for all his poise and polish, he had his secrets. His marriage to one of the wealthiest women in the country did not prevent him from pursuing the Madame X of Washington society, whose other secret suitor was Hay’s best friend, Henry Adams.

With this superb work, Taliaferro brings us an epic tale.

©2013 John Taliaferro (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 03-09-14
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 03-09-14 Member Since 2006

    IRP

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Historical Biography- Well Read"

    As a student of history I found this biography to be an excellent book about a man whose career spanned two different period in US History- the period leading up to and including the Civil War and the Guilded Age that covered the development of America up to the Progressive Era prior to World War One. The author does an excellent job of covering the details of not just John Hay's life but the historical events (including the assasination of three presidents, the Spanish American War, The Boxer Rebellion, the Panama Canal land acquisition, and the Russo Japanese War) that were an integral part in US development into an imperial power. Great nuggets were also included (such as the fact that Hay's granddaughter was actually the first owner of the NY Mets baseball franchise).The narration was also excellent and I learned a great deal about a period of history of which I thought I had a good knowledge. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of America from the American Civil War through 1905.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-07-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-07-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must read book for history buffs"

    John Hay (1838-1905) spent his early life in Warsaw, Illinois a son of a doctor. He attended Brown University and study law in an uncle’s law office (with A. Lincoln) in Springfield Ill. He was adapt with languages and learned German, French, Latin and Greek. He helped on the 1860 campaign of Abraham Lincoln where he met John Nicolay. He and Nicolay became Lincoln private secretaries when he was elected President. He married Clara Stone daughter of the wealthy Ohio Industrialist. Hay’s served as undersecretary of state to Rutherford B. Hayes, he also served James A. Garfield. He became Ambassador to England for William McKinley and after a year his Secretary of State. He also served Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of State. I found it interesting that 3 of the president Hay served were assassinated. During Hay’s career he was a journalist, writer, poet, businessman and politician. Between the highlights I have listed John Taliaferro packed a lot of information about Hay’s life and his career. I noted from the information provided by Taliaferro Hay played key roles in several area’s when he was Secretary of State, the open door policy about China, the role he played with the creation of Panama. When he was Ambassador to England he played a key role in developing positive relationship with England. Taliaferro provided great insight into John Hay the man but I feel he relied too much on Hay’s own papers and a few other manuscripts when writing about Hay’s the diplomat. It would have been great if he had obtained insight about Hay’s from foreign archival material to better portray his diplomatic role. Taliaferro attempted to provide an unbiased view of Hay revealing his faults as well as his virtues. The last biography of Hay was Tyler Dennett’s “John Hay: From Poetry to Politics” written eighty years ago. It was about time we had another look at this interesting man and the role he play during a critical time in our history. Joe Barrett did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in history this is a must read book.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wiregrass18 Alabama, United States 02-22-14
    Wiregrass18 Alabama, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2010

    Wiregrass18

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    "A Wonderful Biography"

    This is one of the best biographies I have ever read. Mr. Taliaferro has done justice to a man who was an eyewitness to and major player in some of the most important chapters of American history, as well as a figure of great character, wit, warmth, and ability. Hay himself was one of the most graceful and enjoyable writers in American public life, and Mr. Taliaferro's writing comes impressively close to matching that of his subject. I felt as though I was able to share part of John Hay's rich and full life and recommend this book about him with enthusiasm.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Fishkill, NY, United States 09-29-13
    William Fishkill, NY, United States 09-29-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting view of the way things were (done)"
    If you could sum up All the Great Prizes in three words, what would they be?

    This is a good description of a pretty remarkable man. But it is the person inter-twinings that make it fascinating.


    Any additional comments?

    However, the third download is damaged. I will never finish it because every time I pause my iPhone5 (iOS7.0.2), doing something else for any length of time and go back to listen, I watch that little marker always (and I do mean always) slowly slide back to about 4 minutes from the beginning. Very disappointing. If iPhones supported Whisper Sync, I would have said this Whisper had Sunk. Shame because the 3rd volume was the most interesting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Riddick 08-15-13
    B. Riddick 08-15-13 Member Since 2000

    BR

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    "Haven't finished it yet It's a LONG Life...."
    What did you like best about All the Great Prizes? What did you like least?

    Well the most enjoyable thing was the investigation of an interesting man with a long and quite historic life. John Hay was a part of some of the most important events in US History and his place in those events makes for an interesting read. There is a little too much speculation in this book for my biographical tastes, but given how many of Hay's letters didn't survive I guess that's understandable

    What I liked least is that by the time Mr. Hay became Secretary of State to Roosevelt, I'd just had enough of hearing about his unrequited love, his friendship with Adams, his treatment of his family. It makes John Hay VERY human, which I appreciate. But he was Human for a LONG time.


    If you’ve listened to books by John Taliaferro before, how does this one compare?

    This is my first one. As a biographer, I'll say this much....he's thorough


    Which scene was your favorite?

    NA


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    If this was a movie it'd likely be on HBO or PBS like the Adams documentary so I'd likely see it when it came to Nexiq


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Huntsville, AL, USA 10-14-14
    Richard Huntsville, AL, USA 10-14-14 Member Since 2009
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    "History on a Very Personal Level"

    This book is not only a very good review of some of the most turbulent eras in United States history, it is told from the view of someone both intelligent and honorable. This is not just the personal view of his biographer, but a view found in the written words of those he worked for and with. From the Civil War to the Spanish American War and beyond this man worked for the best interest of the United States as he saw it. He was not perfect, he held the views of his education and his friends including Henry Adams, (yes he of the acerbic Adams clan). This man lost a personal friend at the Battle of Gettysburg, and still was horrified decades later at the thousands dead in a battle which occurred outside of the borders of the United States. Following Hays life gives a personal view of some of the most formative times in American history.

    This book actually gave me an understanding of some actions the American government took in the early nineteen hundreds that are still have reverberations all these decades later. It begins slowly like most biographies, but give it time, it is well worth it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginny 11-19-13
    Ginny 11-19-13
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    "Don't waste your credit"
    What disappointed you about All the Great Prizes?

    the author goes for uninteresting facts in a persons life and drugs you into unconsiouness with the telling. And the narrator need a new day job.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Phone calls from heaven


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Joe Barrett?

    no one for this book


    Any additional comments?

    I have tried this author twice now and will not make this mistake again. As the mother of an academic I realize the work that goes into a book like this and I feel badly he does not seem able to bring the person of interest to life for the reader- People won't learn from a badly presented story. It's a shame really because the author chooses his subjects well and I would really like to be able to stick with it.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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