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Saturday, June 29, 2013

American Phoenix- A Book Review

I was grateful for the opportunity to increase my knowledge of the lives and times of a lesser known American President and his wife through a review copy of American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence. This book provided me with a greater understanding of the early United States and her struggle to emerge as a fully respected and sovereign nation.  I also benefited from a thorough look into the experiences of John Q. and Louisa Adams and their contributions to American history via Ms. Cook’s presentation.  Glimpses of Pre-soviet Russian society and it’s Orthodox worship added interest throughout.  Mothers will be particularly impacted by learning of Louisa's sacrificial separation from her children during her period of Russian exile.

Cook’s  approach to writing in this genre aims to make history relevant and familiar.  As a result, one comes away from this book with a greater understanding of the lives of John Quincy and Louisa Adams and a feeling that one has known them, or has, at the least, been an observer of their lives.  However, the writing approach that she uses to accomplish this involves some transitions that can feel choppy at first.  For instance, I found the tense changes that occur throughout the book to be distracting.  There is value in switching between presenting events of the past and relating them to present day life, but the resultant prose is not always fluid. 

Readers with an interest in the early American history, War of 1812, and the lives of American Presidents and their wives will find this book useful.

This book was a Review Copy sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably.

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