Author Margaret Coit's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of John C. Calhoun is a towering accomplishment in the writing of American history, powerful in the fullest sense of the word. This is no bland recital of dates and events. It is a searing, blinding, cascading roller coaster of emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and above all, human, history. The listener lives through hot, sleepy days on the South Carolina frontier of Calhoun's youth; goes with him to Yale in 1802 where the scent of the sea wafted in through his rooms; to the stern, New England town of Litchfield, Connecticut and its law school to study under Federalist mentors, and where students were expected to wear buckled breeches and ruffled stocks.
Muddy, primitive Washington, D.C. comes to life in the terrible years when our national tragedy of disunion was unfolding, with Jackson, Benton, Randolph, Webster, Clay, and Calhoun each struggling in his own way to avert catastrophe. When you have known the great South Carolinian at all the stages of his life; when you have lived through the events which determined his views; and when you have followed the path of his relentless logic - then you will finally understand our Civil War as few of us have ever been able to understand it before. In Miss Coit's brilliant story of Calhoun's personal life we discover a man of human frailties and human magnificence, much different from the image in those brooding photographs. And for the first time we understand how John C. Calhoun held the passionate loyalty of his people.
©1950 Estate of Margaret L. Coit (P)2014 Audio Connoisseur
"Provides far and away the most detailed, vivid, and convincing personal characterization of Calhoun we have." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Nation)
I knew little of John C. Calhoun and only had a superficial understanding of the old deep antebellum South apart from the lone issue of slavery. I found the subject extremely interesting and exotic. This is an excellent personal and cultural history. The writing style, which at first strikes one as archaic, takes on a life and character of its own and adds greatly to the experience. One of the finest political biographies I have encountered in years.
The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine.
Life is just so weird. I was listening to this for research when a political movement happened to take Calhoun's name off of a hall or dorm in Yale. I don't agree with Calhoun, and maybe he doesn't deserve the honor. But it seems to me that if we rewrite history, we will revisit it. The take away from this book is how early on Calhoun realized the South's doom. Instead of figuring out a way to stop it at that moment, he perpetuated the doom by speaking for it. That's his great failing. We need to remember this failed legacy.
Good but not great
Yes if they want to understand better the philosophy and thinking that motivated Calhoun
Calhoun: Defender of the South
The author really provides a very in depth look at Calhoun and how he was motivated by a combination of his philosphical thinking and his South Carolina roots. However, often times the author goes into too much detail about a scene or conversation . I did not need to know that ther was a stain on Calhoun's shirt, or that President Jackson's cane was Tennesse oak.
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