Leo T. - Reviews

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100 Planes 100 Years: The First Century of Aviation
100 Planes 100 Years: The First Century of Aviation
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/19/2017

The authors begin by noting that simple planes can be kept in the air today while those after the 1930s are too complex. Witness the problems the Confederate Air Force has in flying their B-29 a few times a year.
Louis Bleriot was a businessman who built a series of planes, the Bleriot XI flying the English Channel in 1909 and then the production models being employed in combat in 1914.
Interesting to read of each selected airplane as it is commented upon regrading its place in the 20th C. and its attributes. Good photos, as would be expected, no index but the table of contents lists each featured airplane. There is a list of airplane museums. My copy doesn't seem to be well bound (PRC).
I still like the Ford Trimotor (the authors explain the emphasis was on reliability, not sleek design) and the DC-3 that made Douglas' reputation here in S. Cal. The people who bought residences near the Santa Monica airport, knowing there is noise, are adamant that it will close, as well as those with development plans. The Beechcraft Bonanza is lauded for its decades of being in production. The Gruman E-2 Hawkeye is 1975's selection.

111 Days in Stanleyville.
111 Days in Stanleyville.
Author: Reed, David.
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/25/2011

This book is based on over three hundred interviews with those who endured the four months in Stanleyville. After the death of Patrice Lumumba, General Olenga's Simba rebel army ruled a large section of the Congo. An international effort rescued most of them by the U.S.A.F. flying in 550 Belgian paratroopers via Ascension Island, but two dozen were mown down by the Simba troops. However, two thousand were then flown out with only the clothes on their backs in what some feel is a fitting end in some ways to the bloody history of the Belgian Congo. That is not the view of the author.

1776: Year of Illusions
1776: Year of Illusions
Author: Thomas Fleming
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/6/2014

This is a long (35 chapters) and well-researched tome, written in an easily understandable style, and well worth reading even if it is kept on the bedside table and not finished for months. I didn't read this when it was written 40 years ago and found it in a box of books courtesy of our JWV post, read it on bus rides for three weeks, and was delighted when it was immediately taken by someone when I put it on the shelf at the old soldiers' home (we have few readers).
The year opened very hopefully, with the British holding only Boston, a few posts in Florida, and under siege in Quebec and ended with Washington hard pressed to preserve his army. Fleming discusses the dark side of 1776 as well as the upsides and urges Americans in 1976 to accept our failings today "without losing hope or faith in the future (481)." Of special interest is the efforts of Admiral Lord Howe to not completely squash the rebel army lest a very hard rule be imposed on the colony as Lord Germain and others in the British government desired. There are succinct descriptions of the English society and politics of the time, and how that led to the policy of the government.
Readers are reminded of how little revenue the British were demanding per capita from the colonists. We all remember John Adams saying one third of colonialists were Loyalists, one third Rebels, and one third rather indifferent, but the dilemma of making this decision as events of 1776 forced it on many people is conveyed to us. There are many insights for Americans who covered this in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades, as well as in junior college. For example, I had forgotten the the Continental currency held its value pretty well throughout the year and didn't realize (given what Canadians say today) how our forces in Canada could have won the day given some hard money and fewer anti-Catholic chaplains.
This book would serve well in a reading classroom in the 11th grade, with 35 different students each having a chance to share their chapter with the whole class for a few minutes. Includes endnotes, bibliography, and index.

1913: The Year Before the Storm
1913: The Year Before the Storm
Author: Florian Illies
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/8/2018

A sophisticated reader will enjoy this.
This is a translation of the German first edition of 2012. While waiting at the local LA County regional library, I spotted this on the shelf and checked it out with the idea it could be used as collateral reading for interested students in Eleventh grade US history when the Wilson administration is being studied. For example, Discuss in a group the chapter you choose to read (each student selecting one chapter) 10 pts.
However, the chapters I read (January and July) require a considerable amount of background knowledge about the largely German (some others, almost all Western European) artists and writers included. There are few politicians. There are anecdotes about these luminaries' daily activities, garnered from letters, diaries, and biographies for the most part. The selected âentries' do offer an interesting and human view of their lives.
Kafka, painters of Die Brucke, Junger, Karl Krau, âElse Lasker-Sholer, F4ranz Marc, Freud, Adorno, Proust, are included in January. The founding of the first Aldi market is mentionedâthe West German supermarket chain is now expanding into the USA.
Joe Stalin was in Vienna for four weeks, his longest trip abroad until Tehran during the war, and he stayed near the park of Schonbronn Palace, where he liked to take a walk, as did Hitler in that same month.
July includes Macke, Ernst De Chirico, Rosessler, Schiele, Eva Gruel, Musil, Spengler, Rilke, and Koroschka.
A handful of Americans are mentioned, Louis Armstrong being sent to the Colored Waifs Home for Boys and being given a trumpet (January chapter). I suspect they might have been added for this edition. There is a bibliography, but no index, so a student working on a term paper cannot readily find information to offer a lighter touch on, for example, the critic Alfred Kerr giving a bad review to Thomas Mann's play Fiorenza. Mann's train trip from Munich to attend the opening in Berlin and the effect on him is covered in detail.

2005 Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1901-Present (Standard Catalog of World Coins)
Review Date: 8/7/2018

I haven't looked at any of the all the world coin catalogues for some time, but find it is still of interest. Prices and most importantly, a long list of various issues. There is a chart to help one estimate minimum values given the spot price of silver (or gold).
It was on the 'free' book truck at the branch library for nearly a week. I have been taking a couple of books for the old soldiers' home and a dozen that are wish listed by PBS comrades. I had put this on the bottom and took it this afternoon and then wasted a couple hours looking at it. The copy is in ex-library, with usual markings, otherwise VG, but too heavy to mail. I will probably return it unless I can figure a way to get it to the old soldiers.
It is well bound.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Author: Al Ries, Laura Ries
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/14/2018

I obtained this as an add-on from a PBS comrade who was mailing me a wish listed book. It was published mainly for additional reading in college classes and I find it to be still of interest and use.
The author is very succinct. Read the introduction and then the chapters of interest to you if you have limited time. I am looking at it on the bus and then will leave it on the book truck in the lobby of the VA Hospital.
The Ries emphasize that marketing is branding. The old rule about selling is fading at the start of the 21st C., which is illustrated by the many retail places that have cashiers but few if any salespeople. And on the Internet, one tends to search for something under the brand name of the firm, such as 'Amazon' rather than searching through 'books.'
Chapter One is The Law of Expansion--The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. Thus ToyRUs went the wrong way with BabiesRUs and Starbuck went the right way with coffee as noted with other examples in Chapter 2--The Law of Contraction.
No more time to type....
P.S. I read and enjoyed several more chapters on the way to an appt. at the VA Hospital and put the book on the free book truck in the lobby at 5:30 A.M. As I departed just before noon, I checked and saw someone had taken it up, which is great!

3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop's Multibillion-Dollar Rise
Review Date: 3/15/2018

I heard one of the principals flogging the book on NPR and obtained a copy from the library as I did not know these masters of hip-hop were such shrewd businessmen. Quite a lot of their success with investments came from maturity. None of them has any background in formal studies of economics, etc. nor did they come from a family where someone would explain these facts of life to them.
It is well written, the author having developed this beat for Fortune several years ago. There are endnotes to back up his statements--many people have talked to him and others over the years and he seemingly has followed up every lead. There is also a chapter on 50cent, yet another who left the life behind.
"Hip-hop's top organizations were born out of a combination of gut feel and necessity. Diddy, Dre, Jay-Z, and their ilk founded record companies because at first they couldn't get deals with major labels; they launched their own clothing and liquor lines because mainstream brands wouldn't meet their compensation requirements for endorsements."
Good index.

360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story
360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story
Author: Sean Wilentz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 3/17/2018

A really great book about this company that began by signing Sousa for its popular cylinders and carried on to Springsteen. Excellent photos and quite a bit of text.
Index and Grammy Award Winners.
There are a couple of wishes outstanding but I have been left holding the bag (i.e. carry around the book and finally leave it at the 'free' book truck at another branch library) because my PBS comrades allowed 48 hours to pass by without replying. So I will leave this AF ex-library book to await another person....

The 51 Capitals of the U.S.A.
The 51 Capitals of the U.S.A.
Author: Muriel Mandell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 3/19/2018

Well chosen photographs and nicely written comments on these cities, with some getting short shrift (Boise, Madison, Cheyenne) and others fulsome treatment (Princeton, Sacramento, Boston, Montpelier).

56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports
56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports
Author: Kostya Kennedy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/18/2019

Mr. Dimaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941. I obtained the book, as an add on from a PBS member who was fulfilling a wish for us, to take to the lobby of the VA Hospital (many readers and little nonfiction on offer).
The author, in a florid style, recreates the scenes for us.
"Bugs were everywhere, dancing around the hot rectangular banks of lights that shine down upon Griffith Stadium. In quiet moments you could hear them, a gleeful swarm of gnats, moths, and mosquitoes who seemed to believe all this gorgeous brightness had suddenly appeared--oh sweet mystery of life!--for their pleasure, rather than to illuminate the first night game in Washington Senators' history, a game now in its middle innings, with the Senators up a few runs on the Yankees."
Bibliography, surprisingly few photos, and index.

The 7th Infantry Regiment: Combat in an Age of Terror: The Korean War Through the Present
Review Date: 3/24/2017

This is the first volume of two, the next one covered the War of 1812 through WWI, this Army unit being one of the oldest, their motto being 'willing and able.'
The author aims to share with his readers 'what combat was like for the generations of men who served in the unit.' This is not a regimental history, but McManus has done his work in various archives and found those who served to be generous in granting him interviews.
It starts with 'fighting so hard and frantically' for a hill in Korea after being not much more than a skeleton unit when sent to Japan, the hard fighting in Vietnam, and then the crash into incompetence of the post-Vietnam army that General Creighton Abrams dealt with. Kosovo and the two Gulf Wars are told with a large input from veterans. Notes, bibliography, and indexes.

8 O'Cluck
8 O'Cluck
Author: Jill Creighton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/22/2015

Written by a Canadian, with acclaimed Canadian artist Pierre-Paul Pariseau illustrations that employ collage in today's digital media. Unlike the Bros. Grimm, the hungry protagonist does not die a gruesome death.

97 Ways to Make A Baby Laugh
97 Ways to Make A Baby Laugh
Author: Jack Moore
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/8/2016

A clever idea and the execution is great. There is a photo of a smiling baby on every page! I will give it to a Marine so he can try it on his great grandkid (?), a baby that visits him sometimes at the Nursing Home.

About Habitats: Forests
About Habitats: Forests
Author: Cathryn Sill, John Sill
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/8/2019

Very simple text (CS is an elementary school teacher) and well drawn illustrations (JS is a wildlife artist) are offered in two page spreads. For example, "Most trees that live in cold forests have special leaves called needles." In the corner it is labeled 'Boreal Forest, Siberian Jay. White Spruce.'
The Afterword includes a few details about each plate, in this case Plate 9: "Most of the trees that grow in boreal forests are conifers. Many conifers are evergreen--their needles stay on all year. They grow hard scaly cones to hold their seeds. Coniferous trees have pointed tops and wide bottoms that allow the snow to slide off. This keeps the branches from breaking under the weight of heavy snow. Siberian Jays live year-round in boreal forests in Eurasia. They store food for winter by sticking it in the cracks of tree bark." Thus if you are reading this with a kid, you can appear knowledgeable.
Plate 17 ends the book, picturing and lamenting that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker seems to be extinct, and warning that too much logging is underway. Thus when discussing Plate 9 the authors would be disappointed if I recalled that Dad and I went out and cut a three foot tree for Christmas when I was a six year old in Second Grade (1953, Lake Walker, Nevada).
Bibliography (5 books, 3 websites) and glossary.
But again no wishes, so I will put it back on the 'free' book truck at this branch library for someone else to have.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Review Date: 12/26/2017

I read some of this on the bus/subway when taking it to the VA Hospital where there are many readers. It got no reader at the old soldiers' home in eight weeks on the shelf.
It reads well but there is a lack of index, footnotes, and bibliography and so is not very easy for a student to use.
Author's note: "recreating dialogue," "recreated scenes," and "changed or imagined." Zuckerberg refused to be interviewed.

The Accidental Theorist and Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science
Review Date: 8/24/2018

I got the book for the shelf at the old soldiers' home but I don't think anyone read it. Pulling it after eight weeks to take to the VA Hospital lobby (many readers), I enjoyed reading most of it before dropping it off.
These are articles for a popular readership and often are still of interest. Many are suitable for collateral reading in a US History or Economics class.
Some highlights:
Dr. Krugman criticizes Robert Reich ('Downsizing, Downsizing' pp. 24-27). "Like much of what Reich says, tis story was clear, compelling, brilliantly packaged, and mostly wrong." "...wrong about this and most other things...." "Reich's style of economics relies on anecdotes rather than statistics, slogans rather than serious analysis...."
'In Praise of Cheap Labor,' (pp. 80-86). Addressing the low paying manufacturing jobs in Third World countries, the economist argues that these jobs are better than what they had.
During the Clinton Administration a $50 billion loan was arranged for Mexico after investors lost confidence, thus staving off disaster. (pp. 142-145).
'Cornering the market,' an economic term, is demonstrated with copper in the 1990s (pp. 34-41).
A couple of essays deal with currency and crisis: George Soros working over sterling was an anamoly; it is rare for a "sinister financial mastermind" to cause a devaluation on his own. Mr. Soros certainly remains unloved by some governments and a whipping boy.
The other article is about the Asian financial crisis that devastated that part of the world. See Making the World Safe for George Soros plus Bahtulism: Who Poisoned Asia's Currency Markets? (146-161).
Standards (Rates) of living are compared, 1950 and 2000 in The CPI and the Rat Race (pp. 191-195).
A political science essay from an economist was published in 1997 in which Krugman considers the pluses and minuses of democratic elections (pp. 179-183).
No index.

Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management
Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management
Author: Caitlin Rosenthal
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/15/2018

I have not yet seen the book; rating is based on hearing her flog the book for about three minutes on Marketplace radio, 8/14/2018. She bases a lot of her work on Thos. Jefferson's account books as few plantations kept such a detailed record and fewer survive.

The Adams Family
The Adams Family
Author: James Truslow Adams
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/8/2019

I had this slim volume on hand for months to read on the bus when I had no other magazine or book and certainly enjoyed it.
My brief notes:
Preface. "It is essentially a biography of a family, thrown against the changing background of its times for a hundred and fifty years (v)" not a series of brief biographies. The author's research has been greatly aided by the fact that so many letters exist from the 1750s onward.
Prologue. "In America there is one family, and only one, that generation after generation has consistently and without interruption made contributions of the highest order to our history and civilization. After four generations of simple but public-spirited yeomen, following the primal migration from England, a something, we know not what, occurred in the blood or brain of the line and lifted it to a higher plane, from which it has never descended. The family story is an inspiring tale and a fascinating problem. That a farmer's son should become a President is, happily, no strange phenomenon in the great democracy, but it is strange indeed, that his descendants, for five generations, by public service in the highest of offices or by intellectual contributions, should remain leaders of the nation which their ancestor so conspicuously helped to found. This is the tale we have to tell (1)."
The Adams worked the land in Somersetshire, with nothing known of them before the 1609 marriage of Edith and Henry Adams. Times had become harder and it is unknown whether that or religious matters (or both) led them to sell up and emigrate to Massachusetts in 1636. It is not known why they chose New England, the Barbados alone drawing as many emigrants as did New England. Upon Henry's 1646 death he left an estate valued at 75 pounds sterling, half being real estate (Braintree) and the other improvements (including three beds). Henry's youngest son Joseph (1626-1694) ran a brewery on his farm, served as a selectman of Braintree, and had twelve kids. He was the father of Joseph (II) and of John (father of Sam Adams of the Revolution). Joseph (II) had three wives and eleven kids, served as selectman and constable, the second wife being well connected (daughter of a deacon). âA deacon was a highly important figure in the tiny village life of that day, and a budding ambition in the family for better things is shown by the fact that Joseph educated his oldest son at Harvard in order that he might become, as he did, a clergyman, which then spelled, locally, both political power and social prestige (3).â Joseph (II) left an estate of 350 pounds sterling and his second son was named John (1691-1660, estate of 1330 pounds sterling) who lived in Braintree and was a farmer, cobbler, selectman, constable, and Lt. in the militia who had married the daughter of Peter Boylston (M.D. in Brookline).
"Of their three children, the eldest, born October 19, 1735, was named John, for his father, and, fortunately for him, being the eldest was given a college education as Harvard (4)."
The author points out that there were considerable opportunities that other settlers took advantage of as self-made men while Boston increased in population from 3,000 to 15,000. However, "the four generations of Adamses, all doing their private and public duty well in the narrow sphere of their village, none had shown neither the ability or the ambition to take part in the larger life of the colony. Thus far the most important man they had produced was, in the third generation, a village pastor in New Hampshire [Joseph (III)], pastor for 68 years of Newington]. With the fifth generation, in the person of John Adams, historian, publicist diplomat, President of the United States, the family not only suddenly achieves national and international position, but maintains it in successive generations for two centuries (5)."
Despite his long study, the author cannot explain why this happened but he is pleased to 'explain this phenomenon.'
"When in 1751, at sixteen years of age, young John began his studies at Harvard he was graded as fourteenth in a class of twenty-four, the grading being still, as was seating in church, arranged according to social position. As his grandson wrote, even this placing in the class, low as it was, was probably achieved rather from the pretensions of his maternal than his paternal ancestry. (9)." Upon graduation, he was in the top three and hired to be the Latin master at the Worcester grammar school. The author explains the influence of pastors in civil affairs was diminishing at this time as men of business enjoyed more respect and lawyers came to the fore. John soon began to read law (1756). "Even during his young bachelor days, until his marriage in 1764, he appears to have been incessantly at work reading and writing, with merely such hours off for recreation as any healthy young man would take (17)."
After passing the bar in Boston in 1758, he lived with his parents and practiced in Braintree. He purchased the home buildings and 35 acres of land from his brother in 1773. He had bought a bit of farmland before that but fees were so small that he made as much from framing as from the law in some years.
He married Abigail Smith in 1764, who was of a good family.
He continued to reside in Braintree until 1768, but practiced mostly in Boston. The author compares the situation of Massachusetts then to Alaska Territory today: no representation, someone must pay the costs of defense, and even if there were a couple of Alaskans voting in Congress, they would have virtually no influence against the large majority. The colonists could suggest no fair way to help the UK pay for the recent war and for ongoing defense costs, but their precious liberty would be lost if taxes were imposed by Parliament. So both sides had some justice. The colonists were willing to wait forever for a solution but the UK had debts to pay and passed the Stamp Act in March 1765. The boycott of using stamps ended lawyer work and Adams was one of three lawyers chosen by the General Court to put their arguments to reopen the court before the governor. Adams law work increased, he moved to Boston, and was busy. Gradually moving toward the Patriot side, he turned down a lucrative appointment from Governor Bernard so as not to be beholden to the government. The author offers evidence that Adams never felt a traditional loyalty to England, unlike many prosperous Bostonians. On the other hand, he abhorred the mob and had no interest in becoming a popular leader. He did assist the work of such troublemakers as Sam Adams.
Regarding his efforts to recover John Hancock's ship that had been seized for collection of duties, the author writes, "...in fighting for the rights of the unrepresented citizen, legislated for without being represented, Adams in 1768 was leading the most powerful current of thought of his day (27)." It had been business as usual for Massachusetts to avoid English decrees for 150 years. The author says Adams gained 'imperishable fame' in his defense of the Captain Preston and his troops (Boston Massacre).
The closing of Boston Harbor and other retaliatory acts by the British left Adams with little employment in 1774. He was one of those appointed as Massachusett's delegates to the First Continental Congress. The author notes that the road from Newburyport to Philadelphia was the only decent road in America and the only road with frequent commerce, stage coaches, etc. [August 10 departure of delegates from Boston to Philadelphia, arrival 19 days later.] This was the first such journey of a farmer's son who had already become more prominent than the three generations that preceeded him. The author says that Adams had already realized that Independence was the only solution but acted with respect and discretion with the other delegates.
He served in the Provincial Assembly and wrote troublemaking letters for the newspapers, etc. during the winter, and then was elected to the Second Continental Congress. It assembled after the battle at Concord. On his own volition, Adams arouse without previous preparation and nominated Washington to command the army. After a few days of discussion, Washington won unanimously. "North and South were indissolubly bound in the common cause through the personality of the only man who could possibly have been accepted by all sections (43)." The USN has always had a ship named the John Adams because of his insistence that a navy be established. Re: Independence, the author states, "...to him belongs the chief credit for, after long struggle, bought Congress to the point of making it (45)." His work done in Congress, Adams was planning on retiring to Boston when he suddenly found himself appointed to France and reluctantly took up this service.
"He had every desire and incentive to resume his private life. He had no wish to visit Europe, and assuredly not in war time and as one of three commissioners who had already squabbled sufficiently among themselves (50)." JQ got to go with him. After wasting eighteen months 1778-1779, he returned to Boston. He was again appointed in late 1779, this time to sign treaties with the UK. "The astute French Minister, Vergennes, had no intention of raising up a powerful democracy overseas. Adams himself, in spite of his bitter opposition to England and friendship for France, sensed this, and feared to trust French protestations very far. He may not have been a diplomat, but he was a shrewd Yankee and he was not long in Paris with his commissions to negotiate a peace and a commercial treaty with his country's foes before he realized where he stood as to his country's friend, France (54)." Adams made no progress in France and relocated to the Netherlands and eventually obtain loans from them. The latter and his work on the treaty with the UK are lauded by the author, who notes JQ did similar good work with the Treaty of Ghent, and Charles Francis with the Alabama claims.
Abigail had to keep the homestead in Braintree going with few resources during all these years. Adams ended up serving as Minister to the Court of St. James until resigning in 1788.
While certainly not as popular as Washington, Adams was respected and chosen Vice-President. "Owing to the delays of Congress, difficulties of communication, and unfamiliarity with the workings of the new governmental machinery, the first election held under the Constitution was a clumsy and bungled affair. In five states, because of lack of time, the electors were not chosen by the people but by the legislatures. Owing to a deadlock in the legislature of New York, that state chose no electors at all. Various odd methods were used in other states (77)."
The author cites Adam's forthright independence as making him the most influential presiding officer of the Senate ever during his first term. The second term was less productive as there were Hamilton's Federalists and Jefferson's Anti-Federalists. As VP Adams had made $5000 a year and Sec. of the Treasury Hamilton $3500; frugality was needed!
Hamilton sabotaged Adam's reelection in 1800. He did move into the Executive Mansion on 1 November 1800 and Abigail joined him.
"She wrote that she saw nothing but woods all the way from Baltimore, and, the road to the capital being nothing but a dirt path, the party were lost for hours and rescued by a stray Negro (113)." "Woods and malarial swamps extended in every direction. There were few buildings of any sort, and scarcely one between the White House and the Capitol, along what is now Pennsylvania Avenue. The streets were mere mud in which even ambssadorial carriages would get mired to the hubs and have to be abandoned by unhappy diplomats (113)."
The Second Generation: J.Q. Adams. pp. 99-192.
The author, who is no relation to the Adams, considers JQ to be the best of the lot because of his service in Congress.
He witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill beside his mother and was fortunate to travel to Europe with his father. They were Franklin's guests in Paris. JQ, being a very sharp teenager, remained to further his education after his father returned home.
At the age of twenty-seven years JQ served the Washington Administration as Minister to the Hague and rose each morning to read from six to nine (English, Dutch, Italian, French, and Latin). He served as Minister to Berlin under his father, Geo. Washington's 1797 letter urging that he have this duty because of his diplomatic skills, despite the appearance of nepotism.
JQ remained independent of party during his entire lifetime and thus steered a straight course guided by his beliefs when the Federalists and the Republicans divided. He was elected to the Massachusetts' Senate (1802, representing Boston) despite not following the dictates of party politics, which led to dissatisfaction.
"Up to this period of John Quincy's life there had been manifest only slightly that bitterness of spirit and invective that were later to be so characteristic. The ablest of all his race, before or since, his psychological position was perhaps the best. His father, eminent as he was, had been a self-made man, with all the psychological disadvantages of that character. John Quincy was not, in the same sense, self-made. He had been brought in contact from earliest childhood with what was best and most stimulating socially and intellectually, in Europe and America. On the other hand, he had not behind him that long family record and tradition that we shall find, to some extent, paralyzing the career of Henry. He touched earth, the soil, with his grandfather. But with his Washington life he was to be made aware of two inimical forces, the enmity against his father and the new spirit of party (114)."
President Madison appointed JQ Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia in 1809. He was hard pressed to live on the rather meagre salary paid and St. Petersburg was an expensive city to reside in, let alone to participate in the social season.
The author offers considerable detail about the Treaty of Ghent (1814), JQ being one of five American Commissioners. JQ and Henry Clay did not hit if off, the latter (War Hawk) sometimes wishing that the war continue. The UK Commissioners had to seek orders from London at every turn. The UK sought the navigation of the Mississippi and the US fishery rights of 1783.
Thus in the end Lord Liverpool's desire for peace prevailed. It had been opposed by Castlereagh but the possibility of war led to the treaty that did not address the objections to UK impressment of sailors and the like was signed.
JQ went to Paris to await the arrival of his family from St. Petersburg and thus they saw the return of Napoleon as Louis XVIII and his adherents fled.
JQ must have been one of the most well connected Americans of that time. "Lafayette came in from the country to see him and he renewed many of his old acquaintances (134)."
He went to London to serve two years as Minister but again the salary was inadequate to really represent the USA properly;it was a rich man's post.
Appointed Secretary of State by Pt. Monroe, the author emphasizes that the US was turning from having a lot of concern about European affairs to a high interest in developing the nation. The population residing west of the Allegheny Mountains in 1820 (2.5 million) was equal to the population of the entire country in 1790. The author mentions the growth in manufacturing and singles out John Jacob Astor, a not of English descent immigrant of 1784, was being a much different sort than the Livingtons, Madisons, Washingtons, etc. Monroe had balanced his cabinet, JQ representing New England. He served abroad so much and had not been interested in party politics, so he learned much from the example of Pt. Monroe.
The Florida Question is examined in detail by the author. The rest of the cabinet wanted to roast General Jackson for his precipitate moves against Spain when he chased marauding Indians into Florida and summarily shot two British agents who were fomenting trouble. The treaty with Onis, who actually did not have authority to negotiate, was not ratified by Spain until JQ pushed them, but he saw it through.
JQ had sufficient mathematical knowledge to fulfill the request of Congress for a Report Upon Weights and Measures that was well respected abroad but ignored in the USA.
Abigail Adams died in 1818 and the author notes that she was a steadying influence in his life, calming him down when he was beset by fools.
While he was pleased that his skills and his straight forward stands on issues earned him respect from many, "Adams was passionately ambitious. From his earliest youth he had looked forward to the possibility of a notable public career. It was in no sense an ignoble passion, and his ambition had never for a moment swerved him from his principles. Not only was the culminations of any great public career in America the Presidency, but in Adam's case--and here family history began to exert what was to be its more and more potent influence--the fact that his father had held that office would make any career falling short of that end appear less successful than his. When Adams had been appointed Secretary of State he had placed his foot on the rung next to the top of the ladder, as the post of Secretary had come to be considered as not only a necessary but as the inevitable step to the nomination as President (150)."
The author reveals some cracks in 'The Era of Good Feeling' because there was considerable jockeying for the 1824 nomination (Clay, Jackson, Crawford). JQ continued to follow his belief that "public office should be accepted but not striven for (151)." "Adams's stand, so far from being appreciated, became the nightmare of his own political followers, practical men, and gave enormous advantages to his competitors for the nomination who knew no such scruples as he did. Adams stuck to his principles, but, as he watched the orgy of wire-pulling and political manipulation by those seeking to obtain what he felt was justly his of right, bitterness entered his soul. It has been shown over and over in our history what strange changes the ambition for the Presidency, once it has taken possession of a man, will work in his mental or moral character. With Adams it served to screw up to an even higher tension the stoicism of his stern Puritanical code of ethics, but as he kept his will clenched and watched others using every resource of political office and power to outdistance him in the race he became soured and embittered (152)."
JQ stood fast against British designs on the Pacific Northwest and limited Russian claims. The latter was the reason for the Monroe Doctrine.
The Election of 1824 was marred by dastardly attacks in print and in speeches. D.C. 'swarmed' with men seeking preference as the House prepared to vote on February 9, 1825.
"To the end Adams maintained the same lofty, if impractical, attitude he had always had as a candidate for public office. He became, perhaps, a little more conciliatory in manner, but otherwise would not make a pledge or lift a finger to aid himself (157)."
The accusation that Clay was promised State in exchange for supporting Adams for president in the House is dismissed by the author. "Clay and Adams did not like each other, but Clay disliked Jackson far more, and from his own record in public life, from his abilities, and from the fact that he was one of the three leading candidates for President, it was natural that he should receive the next highest post in the government (157)."
The Presidency.
Adams term in office was very quiet, the emphasis among Americans continuing to be building up the nation. The Federalist Party was gone and the five contenders for the presidency in 1824 were all Republicans; thus all politicians were looking forward to the 1828 election. Except JQ, who even retained in office the previous appointees unless they blotted their copybook. He also was out of step with the changing times in seeing himself as elected to do the right things according to principles and not to obey the dictates of his constituents. He did support internal improvements, including a university and astronomical observatory.
JQ and Jackson had few differences in the questions of the positions to be taken by the national government but Jackson was very willing to play politics to win the election of 1828. JQ did not remove Postmaster General McLean, an active Jackson man, from his cabinet despite his disloyalty. "The history of his administration is in the main the story of the machinations of his political enemies (167)."
The outcome of the election of 1828 was obvious by that summer but the administration press and that supporting Jackson went hammer and tongs at each other, as did the respective politicians. Jackson refused the courtesy of meeting when Adams invited him to do so before the inauguration. The author notes that this was not the close of the administration but the end of an era.
After his term as President, JQ needed to earn some income and set about organizing his father's papers. "In September 1830, he was unexpectedly asked to allow his name to be voted on as a candidate for the House of Representatives from the farming district of Plymouth in which his home at Quincy was situated. He replied that, if the people asked him to, he would serve them, but 'I shall not ask their votes. I wish them to act their pleasure.' Of the 2565 votes in twenty-two towns, 1817 were cast for Adams and the rest scattered among several candidates. On taking his seat, Adams announced to his constituents that he would hold himself accountable to no party and to no section, and it was on these terms, honorable alike to him and to them, that they returned him year after year until his death in the very hall of Congress itself (175)." Congress was considered a step down to his son Charles Francis and others of his friends. But the author terms his service in the House to be:
The Great Years. pp.178-192.
The author believes JQ's acerbic words about some public policy and men to be caused by events being so far below the high standard he set for guiding the nation to success. The author substantiates this by JQ considering Jackson and Clay had not opposed nullification strongly enough but he was the principal defender of Jackson in the House over collecting funds due from France.
"Congress convened on the fifth of December [1831] and on the twelfth Adams presented fifteen petitions from Pennsylvania for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia (180)." The slavery issue heated by 1835 and while JQ was not an Abolitionist, he continued to present petitions (almost all not from his own constituents) until the Gag Rule (tabling such petitions) passed on 18 January 1836 (182 to 9). The author terms Adams' opposition to be "the great contest of his life, a struggle that was not limited to slavery, but that was waged for the constitutional rights of each and every citizen (183)." He fought on and it was rescinded 3 December 1845. (108-80)
"In February 1837, he asked the Speaker if the âgag' rule would apply to a petition from twenty-two persons who stated that they were slaves. Immediately the House was in a wild uproar, and motions to censure and even expel Adams were hurled at the Speaker from all sides (183)." [four days debate]
Adams was able to see that Smithson's bequest was employed properly and took charge of organizing the House when the Clerk blocked action. "He took active part in the debates on such matters as the tariff, the annexation of Texasâ¦(190)" and was called upon to travel and speak [but not in the South I would wager].

The Third Generation: Charles Francis Adams pp. 193-254.
This is mostly concerned with CF's years as US Minister to the Court of St. James where he strove to ensure that recognition of the CSA was withheld and that ships of war not be constructed in UK yards for the CSA. France was the other major European player in the question of recognition, with the Emperor Napoleon III favoring recognition as part of his plans to do mischief in Mexico. Lord Palmerston's government favored neutrality, with Lord John Russell, the Foreign Minister, being CF's usual contact.
CF received changing orders from Secretary of State Seward but he was able to act with circumspection so that there was not too much damage to Anglo-American relations. A major problem was that the Union losses in the field until the Battle of Gettysburg made it appear the CSA would prevail.
Many of the British Lords and Ladies and business interests favored the CSA but there was surprising support among millworkers who were out of work as they eventually finished up the bountiful harvest of 1860. The delay in stating that the civil war was to end slavery rather than just preserve the Union was problematic in the Europe. Adams notes that $12 million dollars was raised in the UK to assist destitute millworkers who had lost $50 million dollars in wages (243).
There are also several pages dealing with the Third Generation's finding their place in life, including CF's becoming an antislavery man, but not joining the most vocal activists. There were Cotton Whigs and Conscience Whigs. There are details on the CSA Alabama claims, CF serving as the US Commissioner.
Most interesting to me is CF's visit to the Executive Mansion (where CF had lived for three years during his father's presidency and seen Pt. JQ Adams do his duties) to meet Pt. Lincoln and obtain instructions from him before departing for London. "In the room which he knew so well, as he often described the scene later, a door opened, and a tall, uncouth, shabbily dressed man in worn slippers entered. It was Mr. Lincoln. The Secretary of State introduced the new Minister, who made the usual brief and dignified speech of appreciation of the confidence bestowed upon him. Lincoln, while they seated themselves, listened in abstracted silence, and then replied carelessly that he had not made the appointment and that Adams should thank 'Governor Seward'; then, lying back in his chair, stretching out his long legs and folding his hands behind his head, he remarked, 'Well, Governor, I've this morning decided that Chicago post-office appointment.' That was all. Not only was the Minister dismissed, but also every thought of a foreign policy. Lincoln had no idea that anything further was expected from him. Adams never wholly recovered from the shock, and the sudden dismay at what seemed the revelation of complete unfitness for his office on the part of the President remained with him for years. Sumter fired on, the nation in civil war, the relations with foreign nations, particularly England of the utmost importance, and a country bumpkin at the head of the government dismissing the Minister to discuss post-office appointments (210-211)."
The Fourth Generation. pp. 255-296
Much of this is concerned with Henry Adams, with the author giving
high praise to various theories he espoused as did his brother Brooks. The author finds them to have been prescient in many ways.

The Adams Family (Adams Chronicles)
The Adams Family (Adams Chronicles)
Author: James Truslow Adams
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 7/12/2018

This well known book is best for those with some background knowledge of history as it is not aimed at being a biography or a history, but instead seeks to explain why the four generations of the family (beginning with President John Adams) made an extraordinary mark on America. Adams are not politicians, instead harking back to the idea that the best and brightest of their generation should work to build a country that is well and selflessly governed.
"That a farmer's son should become a President is, happily, no strange phenomenon in the great democracy, but it is strange indeed, that his descendants, for five generations, by public service in the highest of offices or by intellectual contributions, should remain leaders of the nation which their ancestor so conspicuously helped to found."
Abigail Adams shines more brightly when it is recalled the many years that she had to run the household in Braintree with few resources and the fact that even as Vice President, Adams had a salary of only $5,000 a year, insufficient to cover living and travel expenses. "Hamilton got only $3.500 a year."
Given the current popularity of Mr. Hamilton it is interesting to recall the political machinations that he visited upon John Adams. The author does admit the failings of his ancestors, noting the costs when one was on a 'high horse,' such as John Adams resenting the popularity of Geo. Washington. Facts that the reader may have forgotten are recalled here, such as Col. Washington being named General in Chief on the motion of Adams as a member of the Continental Congress. "Unfortunately he began to overrate his services, great as they were--or, rather, he failed to realize the difference between his own and those of others, no less essential because different."
Also the French did not want the USA to be too successful, being interested mainly in something that provided trouble for the UK--Vergennes was not our friend.
The index is not very good and there are few footnotes, which is problematical in that one might care to read further about certain events that are mentioned and cannot be detailed in one volume.

The Admiral's Wolfpack
The Admiral's Wolfpack
Author: Jean Noli
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/22/2016

No index or footnotes, this is not a scholarly book. But the author did talk to many of the U-boat personnel and obtained many stories now forgotten as the Greatest Generation fades away. 49 U-boats remained at sea when Admiral Doenitz, serving as Chancellor, ordered them to surrender on 9 May 1945 in a message sent at !:40 A.M. The Commandant of U-977 allowed 16 of the crew to go ashore in Norway and the other 26 mariners went to Argentina, a passage of 66 days underwater.

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