Monday, July 1, 2013

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

ISBN: 9781595555410
Hardcover $26.99
Review: The War of 1812 has often been regarded a forgotten war, or even worse, an unnecessary war.  In her well written book, “American Phoenix”, not only does Jane Hampton Cook debunk those theories, in the process she opens the reader’s mind to a side of two of the most influential people of that generation, John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa.

Written in an intriguing combination of an historical biography and novel, this work reveals the romantic connection that existed, not only between the Adams’ but also between Louisa Adams and her affinity for Russia, developed during the time she spent there while her husband served  as the first diplomat sent from the fledgling United States to St. Petersburg.   Cook successfully explores through letters and diary entries the loving and warm relationship that existed between the strong and vivacious Louisa and her reserved New England born husband.

More importantly, the reader is brought to see the vital importance the War of 1812 played in the establishment of the United States as a new and growing nation, capable of playing on the world stage.  Rising from the national ashes after the invasion of the British and the burning of much of the nation’s capital, the American republic, struggling to survive its infant years,  is seen more as the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes of the funeral pyre.  Windows are opened so that the reader can see how John Quincy Adams, son of the second president of the United States, rose from the political ash heap to play the lead role in bringing about the Treaty of Ghent, which not only brought permanent peace with Great Britain, but also opened various avenues of commercial trade, key to the future success of the United States.  The capability of the younger Adams as a diplomat is on full display as he deftly and successfully works to maintain the delicate balance between the three world powers of the day, pre-Soviet Russia,  Napoleon’s France, and Great Britain.

In the end Cook allows us to see the devotion of Louisa Adams to a husband she spent many months and even years separated from as he worked tirelessly to serve the nation he loved so dearly.  Finally, we see the faith of both John and Louisa, a faith that carried them through the dark periods of life, including their lengthy separations and the deaths of two of their children. 

This is a well written and touching account of the most pivotal point in U.S. history and the involvement of two of its most influential citizen patriots. (Reviewed by Dr. Robert Hodges)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of American Phoenix by Jane Hampton Cook was provided by BookSneeze to facilitate our honest review on behalf of the publisher, Thomas Nelson. No compensation was provided for this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

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