Monday, April 22, 2013

Book review: American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Hampton Cook

The book by Jane Hampton Cook details a very specific episode in the life, work and marriage of John Quincy and Louisa Adams. The book starts with the riveting account of how Louisa embarks on her journey from Russia in the deep winter to meet up with her husband in France. On her travel westward, she is looking forward to being reunited with her husband, while at the same time having trepidations about her safety and the safety of her son Charles. Not uncalled for are these fears because a murder just happened on the road they are traveling and a thief seems to be mixed in with the party as well.

What starts off sounding like a travel adventure with the wife of an American president as a protagonist, turns out to be a story about how Louisa Adams is more than just a damsel in distress. Having to deal with the travel arrangements and decision making on her own, we learn that Louisa can be a self-assured woman. While missing her husband and worrying about her children, Jane Cook also lets us see the side of Louisa that is strong, independent and breaking the mold of what women were supposed to be in that year of 1812. She has fears, to be sure, about whether she makes the correct decisions and whether she can be equal to her husband in haggling with people along the way, but  becomes clear even on these first early pages of the book is the deep love that binds Louise and John Quincy Adams.
available at here
It is this love that helps both overcome disappointments and troubles. Whether it is the imposed exile of John Quincy to Russia, from which he has to crawl his way back to political meaningfulness or it is the aforementioned travel of Louisa out of Russia, Jane Cook can brings these two historical figures to life. She is drawing Louisa and John Quincy as equals in the a relationship in which clearly the couple is stronger than the sum of its individual parts.

This book is highly recommend for anyone interested in this particular era of American history as well as readers that are focused on the life of John Quincy Adams. I can highly recommend this book. It is excellently researched and the author really manages to make the whole period come to life!

Disclaimer: I received this book through in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by booksneeze or any other third party.

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