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Henry Clay: The Essential American Paperback – Illustrated, May 10, 2011
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“A revealing portrait of Henry Clay, a man who was critical to the life of the nation in the tumultuous nineteenth century. Never president but always in the arena, Clay is a remarkable architect of the Union, and we owe the Heidlers a debt for bringing him to life in these pages.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
“Henry Clay’s unparalleled combination of skill, charisma, and energy are on display in this biography.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
“An enormously engaging picture of this man and his era.”—Heather Cox Richardson, The Washington Post
“It is a measure of the Heidlers’ success that they rescue Harry of the West from his own legend. . . . [They] write with one voice and contagious enthusiasm.”—Richard Norton Smith, The National Interest
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House Trade Paperbacks; Illustrated edition (May 10, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 656 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812978951
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812978957
- Item Weight : 1.6 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.34 x 9.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #482,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Henry had a large family and sadly, most died from disease, child birth or in the case of one son, early on in the Mexican-American War. He had slaves, yet was very ambivalent. One slave escaped and Clay sent him money in case he wanted to return. He advocated gradual emancipation, both to minimize the financial loss to the owners and to give the slaves time to learn trades in order to earn a living.
Of course, he ran for president. Often. He almost won a few times, but failed for various reasons. At a time when it was not proper for the candidate to campaign, he lost to better run campaigns. The last campaign was against General Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican-American War. After the election, he sent an invitation to President Taylor to visit his mansion in Lexington, Kentucky. A different time.
Well written. Very enjoyable.
It's a bit scary how similar to our current times this period of American Politics was, and (without even really meaning to) this book gives us some information that may make you you think about today's politics in a different way. While there's no "Left" or "Right" politics here, and the political lines were drawn very differently back then, seeing politicians about 200 years ago dealing with some very similar situations, in amazingly similar ways (the good, the bad, and the ugly), gives you a bit more perspective on what's going on today. Every generation thinks they are seeing something for the first time, and this book is reminder that this isn't always the case.
Clay's reputation as a compromiser was well deserved even if the outcome of his efforts was in the end short lived. The disputes and rivalries between Clay and other significant historical characters including Andrew Jackson and John C Calhoun are well documented and brought to new life in these pages.
I also found Clay's personal details and the tragic history of his family to be interesting in rounding out the picture of this incredible man's life.
Overall this is an excellent read and a great choice for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Henry Clay and American history between the founding generation and the civil war era. Two observations I took a way - the country was as divided politically then as it sometimes seems to be today and that politics was as cut throat and dirty then as now.