Book Review: Founding Rivals

founding-rivals

Chris DeRose, Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2011).

Before serving the young United States as President, or as Secretary of State, James Madison and James Monroe each eventually served the new republic in Congress. In the nation’s first election under the newly adopted Constitution, these two men faced each other in a contest to represent Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Madison, author of the Constitution versus Monroe, a soldier hero of the Revolution. Madison, the Federalist versus Monroe, the Anti-Federalist. The Constitution’s survival as a governing document was at stake.
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Review: Presidential Wit and Wisdom

I was recently gifted this brilliant little book, a great quick read, containing selected quotes of various U.S. presidents. This book would be the perfect gift for any person interested in U.S. history.

Here are two selections from James Madison and a bonus track from William Henry Harrison.
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Book Review: West of the Revolution

An Uncommon History of 1776

Rarely, will I recommend a book with revisionist appeals. Claudio Saunt’s work, West of the Revolution, is such a book. As the title indicates, Saunt explores North American events contemporaneous to, but removed from, the American Revolution. Despite an appeal to modern revisionist belief, it is an enjoyable and informative read of 211 pages.
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Capital Stories… Winston Churchill (the author)

“Light on the Literary Life”

It is a dose of personal choice, and a quirk of history, that ushered a highly successful American novelist of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries into near obscurity. Winston Churchill authored several best-sellers by 1904, but later chose to pursue other interests. Churchill entered politics, took up painting, and eventually left the public eye. His name provided the quirk of history. His withdraw coincided with a different Winston Churchill’s rise to prominence. Our memory of the British politician turned author is so large that our memory of the American author turned politician is now faint.

The following story features Winston Churchill, the American author. It is one story featured in the book, Capital Stories About Famous Americans.
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Capital Stories… Ben Franklin

“A Lesson in Time Value”

After browsing around for quite some time, a particularly obstinate patron at Ben Franklin’s book store refused to accept the price offered by a store clerk. Certain that speaking to the owner would obtain him a better price, the man demanded the clerk summon the proprietor. Franklin’s newspaper operation was located in the bookstore’s backroom, and the patron’s summons dragged Franklin from working at the press. Upon Franklin’s arrival the man asked “What is the lowest price you can take for this book, sir?” In an effort to teach the man to value the time of others, Ben Franklin entered the bargaining session. Continue reading “Capital Stories… Ben Franklin”

Book Review: The Last Battle

American G.I.s and Nazis join to defend a group of famous French.

Although cliché, it is certainly true that history is the story of intersecting paths. History’s best stories are those whose various character paths originate at points most divergent from each other. One such story occurred in Austria during the final days of World War II. In his book The Last Battle, Stephen Harding successfully informs not only to the historical significance of the point of intersect (the battle); he also relates the backstories (the paths), of the participating characters. 
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Book Review: Here Lies Hugh Glass

A Mountain Man, A Bear, and the Rise of the American Nation

As I read Here Lies Hugh Glass, by Jon T. Coleman, I was reminded of the brilliant but underachieving genius who turned 20 pages of original material into a two hundred-page book. Somehow, he made it entertaining. So, what do you do when you have one primary source? What do you do with multiple, but unreliable, secondary sources? Coleman provides the answer.
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