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There are two sides to this book, one is typical of the romantic pulp fiction style of the 70's, this is first the life story of Joseph Armagh, a destitute orphan who emigrated from Ireland because of the famine. His bitter experiences in childhood leave him cold hearted and in pursuit of money at all costs, and he achieves incredible wealth and power in America. His goal at any price is to make his son president of the United States. There was a made for TV mini series based on this story.
The other more interesting part of this book though is about the control of wealth and real power in the world in the hands of a few. Taylor Caldwell has written an add on to the story that is a warning that the "controllers" are not fiction and were more powerful than ever. In the Captains and the Kings some historical events described are the US civil war, the presidencies of Lincoln, labor struggles, the making of Teddy Roosevelt, and immigration. Was the civil war after all just an event arranged & set up mainly by rich European bankers for profit? Are all wars always set up by a handful of distant people for profit? This book really makes you wonder
Joseph Armbaugh was only 12 years old when his mother brought him and his siblings from Ireland to America to reunite with his father, who had come before them. Tragedies occurred and the reunion never happened. Suddenly Joseph was on his own and was the sole support of his young brother and sister. He worked with driven single-mindedness to provide for his family and he learned what is took to survive in his adopted land. He set goals for each person in his family and he was devastated when they had other ideas. His loveless marriage was arranged much like a business deal, and it allowed him to begin a relentless pursuit to make his son President of the United States. Although wealthy and powerful, Joseph was no match for unseen forces which pulled strings and manipulated politicians, businessmen, and countries. This is an American tragedy, written with beautiful prose, unrelenting realism, and extraordinary insight. It is a book you will not soon forget.
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If I could recommend only one book, it would be Taylor Caldwell's "Captains and the Kings." Here are three reasons.
Caldwell's fascinating tale is filled with ironic, powerful, and unique insight into human nature and behavior. She will entice you into turning page after page without rest, until you reach the end of her story. Then you'll sit wondering if you really read all that, tempted to go back to read it again. Craftsmanship and story-weaving earns "Captains and the Kings" a place among the world's ten best books.
Caldwell writes historical fiction with intimate knowledge and perception. Her readers often wonder if she actually lived through the times she depicts with her pen. It's been said that she believed that herself; many of her other books tend to encourage this idea. "Captains and the Kings" offers a vivid and unsettling view of an earlier and much different America, in a time that was more free and open than our modern age, but also more dangerous and a great deal more heartless. If you've always wondered what the term "nitty gritty" means, read this novel! So saying, I boost the book into my top-five list!
Finally, this book has defined my experience with personal computers, the Internet, and Reality (tm) itself! After purchasing an Amiga 1000 almost twenty years ago, I found my way onto a BBS that feaured FidoNet forums. I began reading and posting on the "Issues" board. One poster commented cryptically that "Taylor Caldwell's 'Captains and the Kings' exposes how the Council on Foreign Relations rules the world." I was driven (as if by an invisible hand) to the public library, seeking out Taylor Caldwell's book.Read more ›
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It was so good that I recently read it again. It's the classic rags to riches story. The main character is Joseph Armaugh, who grew up poor in Ireland and is finally able to go to America. His mother dies onboard ship. Joseph is determined to be rich, and of course America is the place for a determined, young, ambitious immigrant to acquire vast riches and power. It's also the story of how a few powerful men run the economic strata of the world. I also got the impression that this book is loosely based on the life of Joseph Kennedy.
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This book is one that truly stands the test of time. I first read it in the 70's as a teen, and it has stayed with me all these years. If you are a lover of historical fiction, appreciate bold, sweeping epochs, and are fascinated by human nature, this is a read for you. I love Taylor Caldwell's books, but beware if this is your first foray into her works, as she sees the world and people in general as very duplicitous. She can be very dark and brooding, and appears to have been a rapt conspiracy theorist judging from the introduction and the bibliograpy that appear in this book. Her characters tend to be quite black and white, but that of Joseph Armagh is quite complex and will be an endless source of fascination to the reader. Aside from the heavy handed political tones in this book, it is the saga of the Armagh family that will keep the reader engrossed. Caldwell weaves a formidible tale-one that is engaging, educational, emotional, and yes even a little frightening. I find myself wondering at the conclusion of this book: What if, in fact, we truly are at the mercy of the "deadly quiet men"? This book will entertain you and make you think!