THE PRICE OF GREATNESS

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JAMES MADISON, AND THE CREATION OF AMERICAN OLIGARCHY

A well-argued examination of the nation’s founding principles.

Founding Fathers worried over inequality, popular sovereignty, and economic growth.

Controversy over the meaning of the Constitution, the powers of the presidency, and the reach of federal government; concern about the political influence of wealthy citizens and corruption among elected officials; questions about the effects of tariffs on economic stability—these issues that beset contemporary America began in its earliest days. Focusing on James Madison (1751-1836) and Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), Weekly Standard contributing editor Cost (A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption, 2015, etc.) offers a revealing look at how their contrasting political philosophies shaped the new nation’s domestic and foreign policies. Although they eventually became fierce opponents, Madison and Hamilton began as allies, sharing a belief “that people were easily led astray by selfish interests that undermined the cause of good government.” State oversight could not be trusted to rein in opportunism and greed. Their proposals for fostering a strong federal government, however, were at odds: Hamilton envisioned a system emulating Britain’s, where senators, appointed by an electoral college, would serve for life, as would the president. Only members of the House would serve three-year terms. The “natural aristocracy” would be drawn from wealthy men, who, merely by virtue of their wealth, had proven their talent for leadership. He proposed a strategy of mediation whereby “individual factions within society would receive direct benefits from the government” in the expectation that they would invigorate the economy and therefore benefit the whole nation by growing its industries. Madison, on the other hand, saw a society dominated by agriculture, “populated by able-bodied, independent farmers.” Deeply suspicious of warring factions, he proposed two chambers of Congress, apportioned according to population, with the power to veto state laws. Madison’s views were held by Republicans, including Jefferson and James Monroe; Hamilton’s, by Federalists, including Washington and John Adams. All recognized the difficulty of balancing nationalism, liberalism, and republicanism, and all saw the risk of factions usurping popular sovereignty.

A well-argued examination of the nation’s founding principles.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5416-9746-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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