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Publisher's Summary

From abject poverty to undisputed political boss of Pennsylvania, Lincoln’s secretary of war, senator, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a founder of the Republican Party, Simon Cameron (1799–1889) was one of the 19th century’s most prominent political figures. In his wake, however, he left a series of questionable political and business dealings and, at the age of 80, even a sex scandal.

Far more than a biography of Cameron, Amiable Scoundrel is also a portrait of an era that allowed - indeed, encouraged - a man such as Cameron to seize political control. A key figure in designing and implementing the Union’s military strategy during the Civil War’s crucial first year, Cameron played an essential role in pushing Abraham Lincoln to permit the enlistment of African Americans into the US Army, a stance that eventually led to his forced resignation. Yet, his legacy has languished, nearly forgotten save for the fact that his name has become shorthand for corruption, even though no evidence has ever been presented to prove that Cameron was corrupt.

Amiable Scoundrel puts Cameron’s actions into a larger historical context by demonstrating that many politicians of the time, including Abraham Lincoln, used similar tactics to win elections and advance their careers. This study is the fascinating story of Cameron’s life and an illuminating portrait of his times.

Published by University of Nebraska Press.

"This book is essential for any civil war historian's library." - San Francisco Book Review

"A political biography that every Civil War student should read." - Civil War Books and Authors

"A thought-provoking biography." - BlueGray Magazine

©2016 Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska (P)2018 Redwood Audiobooks

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-31-18

Interesting

This turned out to be an excellent book to read after I read Chernow’s Grant. The last part of this book covers U. S. Grant’s presidency and his relationship to Cameron.

Simon Cameron (1799-1889) was one of the 19th century’s prominent political figures. He rose from poverty to the political boss of Pennsylvania. Before reading this book all I knew about Cameron was that he was a crooked politician. He was one of the best users of the 19th century spoils system. But he was loyal to the Union and Lincoln. Cameron was key in designing and implementing the Union’s military strategy during the Civil War. Cameron was a key politician of his day. He served as Senator from Pennsylvania, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Lincoln’s Secretary of War.

The book is well written and researched. Kahan reveals both the good and bad of Cameron’s political career. Kahan did a good job of staying neutral with his presentation of Cameron’s career. The author reveals the corruption of our early political system. Paul Kahan is a well-known historian. He received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Temple University. I read his book “The Bank War: Andrew Jackson” and enjoyed it. Kahan is a lecturer at Ohlone College in Fremont, California.

The book is almost ten hours. Michael Kazalski does a good job narrating the book. Kazalski is a voice-over artist and audiobook narrator.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful