Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: American Phoenix by Jane Hampton Cook

American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence is written by Jane Hampton Cook and is published by Thomas Nelson.

I am a lover of all things history and this book does not disappoint my appetite for more. Before reading American Phoenix, I knew very little about the War of 1812 or John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa. I am coming away from a large (502 pages) volume of great American history.

Well before John Quincy became our sixth president, he was "exiled" to Russia. His was a diplomatic exile, not simply banishment from the country. James Madison was then president and he wanted to develop trade agreements with the large country during a difficult period of world history when England and France were at odds - and dominating the world.

In the early nineteenth century, the United States of America was not even close to being a world power. John Quincy sought to change that. He and Louisa, then, traveled across a dangerous ocean in the autumn, hoping to avoid becoming trapped by the snow and ice that threatened to beat them to Russia. They left behind their two oldest sons, aged six and eight at the time. Would their sacrifice be worth it?

Jane Hampton Cook has done a magnificent job of retelling the true story of the Adams's determination to sacrifice it all to save the United States of America. Much of the gripping narrative (written as if it were almost a novel rather than pure nonfiction) is taken from John Quincy and Louisa's respective diaries themselves. Because of the use of their diaries, their story is very believable and very personal.

I love this book and feel that every American should read it. It reminds us of a time when politicians and patriots did all that they could to further the good of this country and left behind selfish ambition. I only wish there were more John Quincy Adams's today.

*I received a copy of American Phoenix in exchange for my honest opinion. Opinion expressed is my own.*

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