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Search tags: American-Lit
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text 2018-10-19 22:28
Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 272 pages.
American Reformers, 1815-1860, Revised Edition - Ronald G. Walters

Earlier this week I combed through my shelves and pulled out a half-dozen books to add to the book box. All of them were unread, but they are all books that I can get through our district's library system. One of them is Walters's book on antebellum reformers, which I have been meaning to read for years; I sampled the introduction, and I came across this:

[T]he patterns of thought were the same: old values were being lost and whatever was at fault had to be eliminated or controlled if America was to fulfill its destiny. Behind that reasoning was a suspicious mentality characteristic of many antebellum reformers, as well as non-reformers, that attributed the nations troubles to conspiracies of one sort or another . . . To believe that plotters were responsible for what was happening to the country was wrong; but it was part of a quest, going back at least to the eighteenth century, for secular terms in which to analyze politics and social change. Rather than seeing the hand of God moving events, many antebellum Americans saw the hands of sinister individuals. That may not have been accurate, but it was about as good as any other explanation available before Marx and modern social science.

And just like that, my reading for this weekend was set.

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review 2018-10-17 14:27
Podcast #120 is up!
In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown - Nathaniel Philbrick

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Nathaniel Philbrick about his narrative history of the last year of the American Revolution. Enjoy!

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review 2018-10-14 17:15
Forget Me Not...
Memory Man - David Baldacci

I was recently introduced to the work of David Baldacci by my Dad, who has enthusiastically devoured the Amos Decker thrillers in quick succession. This first in the series introduces the gruff and unlikely hero - ex NFL player and police detective, decimated and made destitute by the collapse of his private world some fifteen months before. However, what makes the rather tragic character of Decker so unusual and compelling is his experience of ‘hyperthymesia’ (excessive autobiographical memory/perfect recall). On the one hand, it does seem like a convenient way of giving ‘superpower’ to a detective, but the narrative actually describes the burden equally as a curse, for the man unable to erase some haunting memories. Still suffering under the weight of his loss, Decker is barely functioning, but is drawn back into his painful past when a man hands himself in and confesses to the murder of Decker’s family. And so the blue touch paper is lit on an explosive tale of murder, intrigue and a battle of wits to prevent further killing and seek justice for the growing number of victims.


Despite being a brilliant detective, Amos Decker is an emotional shell, no longer able to process as he once did. Yet, as well as a triumph of complex plotting, the author’s skill lies in his ability to make the reader care about how it turns out for the flawed main character. Former police partner, pushy journo, FBI special agent are all excellent supporting characters and each realizes Decker is the key to the case and prop him up along the way, recognizing his vulnerability.

 

It is a masterful example of the genre. Perhaps, the fact that, like my Dad, the final page had me seeking out the title of the sequel is testament to this book’s impact as a ‘page-turner’. Quite dark, the rattling pace is maintained, despite the convoluted twists and turns and in an interesting symmetry the criminals are as unusual as the pursuer. Well worth a read.

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review 2018-10-13 02:41
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War - Michael F. Holt

The antebellum period saw the formation and destruction of the second party system in U.S. politics between Andrew Jackson’s Democrats, which survived to the present, and their rivals the Whigs that did not.  Michael F. Holt’s magnum opus, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, details how the Whigs emerged from all the anti-Jacksonian forces to their disintegration in the mid-1850s due to the factional and sectional divisions.

 

Beginning in the mid-1820s, Holt explains the origins of the anti-Jacksonian groups that formed and later coalesced to form the Whig party in the winter of 1833-4 in Washington, D.C. then how it eventually branched out and formed in states.  Through thorough research from the national down to the state, county, and local levels Holt explored how the Whig party was planted and grew throughout the country and competed against their Democratic foes.  Yet this research also exposed the intraparty feuds within state parties that affected conventions on all levels, platform fights, and Election Day enthusiasm.  Exploring a political relationship between state politics and national politics that is completely different than that seen in the second half of the 20th-century and early 21st, Holt shows how this different political paradigm both rose up the Whigs and eventually destroyed them.

 

With almost 1300 pages of text and notes, Holt thoroughly explored the 20 year history of the American Whig party from the national to the local level within every state of the Union.  Throughout Holt’s assertion that the Democrats always controlled “the narrative” of the Whig’s history and how that played on the Whig intraparty feuds which eventually was one of the main three causes of the party’s disintegration.  The focuses on Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, party traitor John Tyler, party destabilizer Zachary Taylor, attempted party savior Millard Fillmore, and slew of other prominent Whigs gives the stage to historical actors who shaped history.  Throughout the text, the reader sees how events if changed just slightly might have allowed the Whigs to continue as a national party and the effects that might have had going forward but ultimately who personalities and how some decisions out of the party’s control resulted in fatal wounds occurring.

 

The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party is not for the general history reader, this tome is for someone dedicated to an in-depth researched book that shifts from the halls of Congress to the “smoke-filled backrooms” of state conventions in states across the nation to election analysis in various congressional districts across the young republic.  The work of an academic lifetime, Michael F. Holt gives insight into political party that ultimately lost in history but that still had a lasting impact to this day in modern American politics.

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review 2018-10-07 19:41
Bedmates, Nichole Chase
Bedmates: An American Royalty Novel - Nichole Chase

My goodness, this was an interesting read. I received this book for free and I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 4.2* rating. This was a fairly fast read but because of sexual content, it's not for the under 18 readers. This story tackled the PTSD problem, so yes there are some sad parts to this. So it showed a little of what might happen in the background of the Whitehouse, which was interesting in some parts. Had just too much erotica for my tastes but overall, it tackled a big problem in our country today.

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