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In America's Jubilee distinguished historian Andrew Burstein presents an engrossing narrative that takes us back to a pivotal year in American history, 1826, when the reins of democracy were being passed from the last Revolutionary War heroes to a new generation of leaders. Through brilliant sketches of selected individuals and events, Burstein creates an evocative portrait of the hopes and fears of Americans fifty years after the Revolution. We follow an aged Marquis de Lafayette on his triumphant tour of the country; and learn of the nearly simultaneous deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the 4th of July. We meet the ornery President John Quincy Adams, the controversial Secretary of State Henry Clay, and the notorious hot-tempered General Andrew Jackson. We also see the year through the eyes of a minister's wife, a romantic novelist, and even an intrepid wheel of cheese. Insightful and lively, America's Jubilee captures an unforgettable time in the republic's history, when a generation embraced the legacy of its predecessors and sought to enlarge its role in America's story.
When Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, he left behind a series of mysteries that have captured the imaginations of historical investigators for generations. InJefferson's Secrets, Andrew Burstein draws on sources previous biographers have glossed over or missed entirely. Beginning with Jefferson's last days, Burstein shows how Jefferson confronted his own mortality. Burstein also tackles the crucial questions history has yet to answer: Did Jefferson love Sally Hemings? What were his attitudes towards women? Did he believe in God? How did he wish to be remembered? The result is a profound and nuanced portrait of the most complex of the Founding Fathers.
A WATERSHED ACCOUNT OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL FRIENDSHIP IN AMERICAN HISTORY InMadison and Jefferson, esteemed historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg join forces to reveal the crucial partnership of two extraordinary founders, creating a superb dual biography that is a thrilling and unprecedented account of early America. The third and fourth presidents have long been considered proper and noble gentlemen, with Thomas Jefferson's genius overshadowing James Madison's judgment and common sense. But in this revelatory book, both leaders are seen as men of their times, ruthless and hardboiled operatives in a gritty world of primal politics where they struggled for supremacy for more than fifty years. In most histories, the elder figure, Jefferson, looms larger. Yet Madison is privileged in this book's title because, as Burstein and Isenberg reveal, he was the senior partner at key moments in the formation of the two-party system. It was Madison who did the most to initiate George Washington's presidency while Jefferson was in France in the role of diplomat. So often described as shy, the Madison of this account is quite assertive. Yet he regularly escapes bad press, while Jefferson's daring pen earns him a nearly constant barrage of partisan attacks. InMadison and Jeffersonwe see the two as privileged young men in a land marked by tribal identities rather than a united national personality. They were raised to always ask first: "How will this play in Virginia?" Burstein and Isenberg powerfully capture Madison's secret canny role-he acted in effect as a campaign manager-in Jefferson's career. In riveting detail, the authors chart the courses of two very different presidencies: Jefferson's driven by force of personality, Madison's sustained by a militancy that history has been reluctant to ascribe to him. The aggressive expansionism of the presidents has long been underplayed, but it's noteworthy that even after the Louisiana Purchase more than doubled U. S. territory, the pair contrived to purchase Cuba and, for years, looked for ways to conquer Canada. In these and other issues, what they said in private and wrote anonymously was often more influential than what they signed their names to. Supported by a wealth of original sources-newspapers, letters, diaries, pamphlets-Madison and Jefferson is a stunning new look at a remarkable duo who arguably did more than all the others in their generation to set the course of American political development. It untangles a rich legacy, explaining how history made Jefferson into a national icon, leaving Madison a relative unknown. It tells nasty truths about the conduct of politics when America was young and reintroduces us to colorful personalities, once famous and now obscure, who influenced and were influenced by the two revolutionary actors around whom this story turns. As an intense narrative of high-stakes competition, Madison and Jefferson exposes the beating heart of a rowdy republic in its first fifty years, while giving more than a few clues as to why we are a politically divided nation today. From the Hardcover edition.
Mortal Remains introduces new methods of analyzing death and its crucial meanings over a 240-year period, from 1620 to 1860, untangling its influence on other forms of cultural expression, from religion and politics to race relations and the nature of war. In this volume historians and literary scholars join forces to explore how, in a medically primitive and politically evolving environment, mortality became an issue that was inseparable from national self-definition.Attempting to make sense of their suffering and loss while imagining a future of cultural permanence and spiritual value, early Americans crafted metaphors of death in particular ways that have shaped the national mythology. As the authors show, the American fascination with murder, dismembered bodies, and scenes of death, the allure of angel sightings, the rural cemetery movement, and the enshrinement of George Washington as a saintly father, constituted a distinct sensibility. Moreover, by exploring the idea of the vanishing Indian and the brutality of slavery, the authors demonstrate how a culture of violence and death had an early effect on the American collective consciousness.Mortal Remains draws on a range of primary sources--from personal diaries and public addresses, satire and accounts of sensational crime--and makes a needed contribution to neglected aspects of cultural history. It illustrates the profound ways in which experiences with death and the imagery associated with it became enmeshed in American society, politics, and culture.
In this day he would be a powerhouse multi-tasker; in his own he was merely an accomplished man of letters who thrived when his nation was still fairly raw. Irving is now best known as the author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," both of which are considered children's fare but in fact contain biting social commentary, and we forget he wrote significant and influential biographies and travelogues. He was also the US ambassador to Spain and was admired by Longfellow, Hawthorne, Poe and Henry James, not only because he was the first American to make a living at writing. Burstein (history, U. of Tulsa) gives a reason for America to put Irving back into eminence on every page, and places him within an incredibly rich political and historical context, which bridged the gap between Jefferson and Dickens. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Most people vaguely imagine Andrew Jackson as a jaunty warrior and a man of the people, but he was much more--a man just as complex and controversial as Jefferson or Lincoln. Now, with the first major reinterpretation of his life in a generation, historian Andrew Burstein brings back Jackson with all his audacity and hot-tempered rhetoric. The unabashedly aggressive Jackson came of age in the Carolinas during the American Revolution, migrating to Tennessee after he was orphaned at the age of fourteen. Little more than a poorly educated frontier bully when he first opened his public career, he was possessed of a controlling sense of honor that would lead him into more than one duel. As a lover, he fled to Spanish Mississippi with his wife-to-be before she was divorced. Yet when he was declared a national hero upon his stunning victory at the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson suddenly found the presidency within his grasp. How this brash frontiersman took Washington by storm makes a fascinating story, and Burstein tells it thoughtfully and expertly. In the process he reveals why Jackson was so fiercely loved (and fiercely hated) by the American people, and how his presidency came to shape the young country's character.
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