DOLLEY AND JAMES MADISON

AN UNLIKELY LOVE STORY THAT SAVED AMERICA

A thoughtful, rigorous discussion of one of the most significant political marriages in American history.

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A historical exploration of the relationship and unique political collaboration between Dolley and James Madison.

According to Smith, historians often consider James Madison a weak president. But when his wife, Dolley, is “added into the equation,” the pair can “legitimately lay claim to be the greatest or one of the greatest presidencies in American history.” In order to substantiate that audaciously original position, the author traces their marriage to its unlikely beginnings. When they first met, possibly through the matchmaking of Aaron Burr, both were suffering from emotional losses. Dolley had lost her husband and infant son to illness, and James was wounded from a heartbreaking romantic rejection. They married in 1794, and Dolley was a steadfast companion, providing emotional and intellectual support through the whole of James’ extraordinary political career, including his time as secretary of state under President Thomas Jefferson and his own tenure in the White House. Smith furnishes a perspicacious political history of the era and its tumult, and he artfully highlights Dolley’s contributions and bravery—his depiction of her devotion to her husband during the disastrous conclusion of the War of 1812 is moving. Dolley’s “natural kindness and personal strength,” as well as her unwavering Quaker faith and charity, are poignantly captured. Smith also makes a compelling case that, contrary to a now popular view that James was a deist, he shared Dolley’s religious convictions. The author doesn’t quite demonstrate the following surely hyperbolic claim: “It is doubtful that America could have survived it first perilous generation as a nation conceived in liberty and law were it not for her contributions.” However, this exaggeration aside, Smith’s admiration for the couple skirts outright hagiography—he takes them to task for their participation in the “evil of slavery” as well as for James’ ungenerous policies regarding Native Americans.

A thoughtful, rigorous discussion of one of the most significant political marriages in American history.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-977219-03-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

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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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