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Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010)

by David S. Heidler(Favorite Author)
3.94 of 5 Votes: 2
140006726X (ISBN13: 9781400067268)
Random House
review 1: I started reading this book because in my high school AP US history class, it seemed that Henry Clay's name popped up daily for a solid six weeks but as a person he was never really talked about other than an old geezer who started the anti-Jackson faction and promoted the American System. What a travesty. Reading the Heidlers' book, I have been amazed at the depth and breadth of Clay's associations and accomplishments, beginning as an anti-Adams Republican in 1800 to the patriotic old man who essentially gave his last measure of devotion to save the country from imminent civil war. It is incredible to me that a person of such magnitude has been left to dust on the shelves of history. In Clay I've discovered a new hero who made public opinion as readily as he would use his... more vivacious personality to make incredibly vital compromises for the good of the Union and Constitution. An imperfect man to be sure- politically with his acceptance of slavery and colonization attempts, and personally with a fiery temper leading to duels and severed friendships- yet Clay was a man driven by an innate sense of purpose as an active political philosopher who deeply loved country and countrymen. This book is incredibly well researched and written. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in antebellum United States political history, as Clay's life covers nearly the entire antebellum period. The United States needs such an accomplished statesman now. I hope I could only begin to be the invested citizen Henry Clay was.
review 2: To be honest, i was a bit disappointed about this book. I felt the author paid more attention in writing about Clay's family life rather than his political life. I was expecting a more in-depth analysis on how Clay honed and applied the parliamentary skills that he was known for today. Being a great orator, i was also expecting the author to give greater detail about his speeches,perhaps putting excerpts of it, but all i got were usually short summaries comprising of about 5 sentences. The author also failed to provide enough background for some issues, like when the book mentioned henry clay's son going to portugal because of a diplomatic crisis. The book didn't even told us what that crisis was all about. Nevertheless, I would have to say that the book is well-written if only i hadn't expected more... less
Reviews (see all)
A great read on an essential American who never became president.
Interesting. Bit of a slog for the last quarter of the book.
Good historical read. Will look into other books by Heidler.
Must read for those interested in American history.
Amazing American legend.
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