Thomas Jefferson advocated a republic of small farmers--free and independent yeomen. And yet as president he presided over a massive expansion of the slaveholding plantation system--particularly with the Louisiana Purchase--squeezing the yeomanry to the fringes and to less desirable farmland. Now Roger Kennedy conducts an eye-opening examination of that gap between Jefferson's stated aspirations and what actually happened.
Kennedy reveals how the Louisiana Purchase had a major impact on land use and the growth of slavery. He examines the great financial interests (such as the powerful land companies that speculated in new territories and the British textile interests) that beat down slavery's many opponents in the South itself (Native Americans, African Americans, Appalachian farmers, and conscientious opponents of slavery). He describes how slaveholders' cash crops (first tobacco, then cotton) sickened the soil and how the planters moved from one desolated tract to the next. Soon the dominant culture of the entire region--from Maryland to Florida, from Carolina to Texas--was that of owners and slaves producing staple crops for international markets. The earth itself was impoverished, in many places beyond redemption.
None of this, Kennedy argues, was inevitable. He focuses on the character, ideas, and ambitions of Thomas Jefferson to show how he and other Southerners struggled with the moral dilemmas presented by the presence of Indian farmers on land they coveted, by the enslavement of their workforce, by the betrayal of their stated hopes, and by the manifest damage being done to the earth itself. Jefferson emerges as a tragic figure in a tragic period.
All school children know the story of the fatal duel between Hamilton and Burr - but do they really? In this remarkable retelling, Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of 1804, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country as well as a time of tremendous global instability. The success of the French Revolution and the proclamation of Napoleon as First Consul for Life had enormous impact on men like Hamilton and Burr, feeding their own political fantasies at a time of perceived Federal government weakness and corrosion. Their hunger for fame spawned antagonisms that wreaked havoc on themselves and their families and threatened to destabilize the fragile young American republic. From that poisonous brew came the tangle of regret and anger and ambition that drove the two to their murderous confrontation in Weehawken, New Jersey. Readers will find this is popular narrative history at its most authoritative, and authoritative history at its most readable.
Washington, Lincoln, Grant--these were once the triumvirate of American nationalism. But, like his tomb on the Hudson, Grant's reputation has fallen into disrepair. The image many Americans hold of him is a caricature: someone "uniquely stupid," an insensitive butcher as a general, an incompetent mediocrity as president, and a drunk. Several efforts to counter this stereotype have often gone too far in the other direction, resulting in an equally distorted laudatory portrait of near-perfection. In reading the original sources, Brooks D. Simpson became convinced that Grant was neither a bumbling idiot who was the darling of fortune nor a flawless general who could do no wrong. Rather, he was a tangle of opposing qualities--a relentless warrior but a generous victor, a commander who drew upon uncommon common sense in drafting campaign plans and in winning battles, a soldier so sensitive to suffering that he could not stand to see the bloody hides at his father's tannery, a man who made mistakes and sometimes learned from them. Even as he waged war, he realized the broader political implications of the struggle; he came to believe that the preservation of the Union depended upon the destruction of slavery. Equally compelling is Grant's personal story--one of a man who struggled against great odds, bad luck, and personal humiliation, who sought joy and love in the arms of his wife and his children, and who was determined to overcome adversity and prevail over his detractors. "None of our public men have a story so strange as this," Owen Wister once observed; agreeing, William T. Sherman remarked that Grant remained a mystery even to himself. In the first of two volumes, Brooks Simpson brings Grant's story to life in an account that is readable, balanced, compelling, and definitive.
In the days before microphones and TV interviews, getting people to listen to you was not an easy task. But James Madison used his quiet eloquence, intelligence and passion for unified colonies to help shape the Constitution, steer America through the turmoil of two wars, and ensure that our government, and nation, remained intact."An excellent, fascinating, indispensable resource." --Kirkus Reviews, pointer review "The book is rich in the sort of detail that illuminates the man, but is not limited to personal information; a great deal of government history is woven into the biography." --Horn Book, starred review "Fritz has given a vivid picture of the man and an equally vivid picture of the problems that faced the leaders of the new nation in the formative years." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review "Young readers will feel like they know the 'Great Little Madison' very well." --School Library Journal
The only living person who as an adult worked closely with Mrs. Roosevelt, Somerville was an aide and friend to the First Lady. Her chronicle of a decade with the Roosevelts focuses on the woman whose compassion reshaped the world.
Stephen E. Ambrose draws upon extensive sources, an unprecedented degree of scholarship, and numerous interviews with Eisenhower himself to offer the fullest, richest, most objective rendering yet of the soldier who became president.He gives us a masterly account of the European war theater and Eisenhower's magnificent leadership as Allied Supreme Commander. Ambrose's recounting of Eisenhower's presidency, the first of the Cold War, brings to life a man and a country struggling with issues as diverse as civil rights, atomic weapons, communism, and a new global role. Along the way, Ambrose follows the 34th President's relations with the people closest to him, most of all Mamie, his son John, and Kay Summersby, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Harry Truman, Nixon, Dulles, Khrushchev, Joe McCarthy, and indeed, all the American and world leaders of his time. This superb interpretation of Eisenhower's life confirms Stephen Ambrose's position as one of our finest historians.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, continues to inspire interest ranging from well-meaning speculation to bizarre conspiracy theories and controversial filmmaking. But in this landmark book, reissued with a new afterword for the 40th anniversary of the assassination, Gerald Posner examines all of the available evidence and reaches the only possible conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. There was no second gunman on the grassy knoll. The CIA was not involved. And although more than four million pages of documents have been released since Posner first made his case, they have served only to corroborate his findings. Case Closed remains the classic account against which all books about JFK's death must be measured.
The first volume in the life of America's greatest First Lady, "a woman who changed the lives of millions" (Washington Post).Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. Three: 1938-1962, will be published in November 2016. Eleanor Roosevelt was born into the privileges and prejudices of American aristocracy and into a family ravaged by alcoholism. She overcame debilitating roots: in her public life, fighting against racism and injustice and advancing the rights of women; and in her private life, forming lasting intimate friendships with some of the great men and women of her times. This volume covers ER's family and birth, her childhood, education, and marriage, and ends with FDR's election to the Presidency--the years of ER's youth and coming of age.
Celebrated by feminists, historians, politicians, and reviewers everywhere, Cook's trilogy is an unprecedented portrait of a brave, fierce, passionate political leader of our century.