Book review and Kindle sale: American Phoenix, by Jane Hampton Cook

April 23, 2013

I recently had the chance to read American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence , by Jane Hampton Cook. This nonfiction book will officially be released May 7, 2013 by Thomas Nelson.

About this book (from the back cover):

John Quincy and Louisa Adams’s unexpected journey that changed everything.

American Phoenix is the sweeping, riveting tale of a grand historic adventure across forbidding oceans and frozen tundra—from the bustling ports and towering birches of Boston to the remote reaches of pre-Soviet Russia, from an exile in arctic St. Petersburg to resurrection and reunion among the gardens of Paris. Upon these varied landscapes this Adams and his Eve must find a way to transform their banishment into America’s salvation.

Author, historian, and national media commentator Jane Hampton Cook breathes life into once-obscure history, weaving a meticulously researched biographical tapestry that reads like a gripping novel. With the arc and intrigue of Shakespearean drama in a Jane Austen era, American Phoenix is a timely yet timeless addition to the recent renaissance of works on the founding Adams family, from patriarchs John and Abigail to the second-generation of John Quincy and Louisa and beyond.

Cook has crafted not only a riveting narrative but also an easy-to-understand history filled with fly-on-the-wall vignettes from 1812 and its hardscrabble, freedom-hungry people. While unveiling vivid portrayals of each character—a colorful assortment of heroes and villains, patriots and pirates, rogues and rabble-rousers—she paints equally fresh, intimate portraits of both John Quincy and Louisa Adams. Cook artfully reveals John Quincy’s devastation after losing the job of his dreams, battle for America’s need to thrive economically, and sojourn to secure his homeland’s survival as a sovereign nation. She reserves her most detailed brushstrokes for the inner struggles of Louisa, using this quietly inspirational woman’s own words to amplify her fears, faith, and fortitude along a deeply personal, often heart-rending journey. Cook’s close-up perspective shows how this American couple’s Russian destination changed US destiny.

My Verdict:

Generally, I am more of a fiction reader; my husband is the nonfiction reader in our family, and I selected this book because I thought it might be something good to read together. American Phoenix is written in a narrative style, and I found it to be easy and enjoyable to read! Cook does a great job drawing logical conclusions about the natures of her “characters” through her in-depth research of their writings.  I especially appreciated the amount of time Cook spent in exploring Louisa’s story and the sacrifices she made for her husband and he country. Adams, too commands respect: his decision early on to risk his budding political career to vote with his conscience on the Embargo Act was very inspirational to me personally; I love the fact that although he did initially lose his congressional seat because of the Embargo Act vote, he eventually rose again to be President. I highly recommend this book for history and nonfiction fans, but also for those who just enjoy a great story.

If you’d like to check out American Phoenix it is currently on sale for $14.57 for the Kindle version right now, which is 46% off. (Regularly $26.99.) If you prefer a physical copy the hardcover version is currently on sale for $15.83. It is not yet available in paperback. Remember, Amazon’s prices can change at any time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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