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Now, perhaps, only those enmeshed in 19th-century American history know his name; but when John Hay died in 1905, he was one of the most famous men in the world. And one of the most highly regarded. Abraham Lincoln's private secretary during the Civil War, thereafter as a popular poet, novelist, newspaper editor, highly esteemed historian and biographer, diplomat, businessman, and secretary of state until his death, Hay enjoyed remarkable success in public and private life. In John Hay, Friend of Giants, Philip McFarland presents both the intimate story of Hay's relationship with four prominent figures of his age and an insightful history of the United States from the 1850s to the turn of the century. Hay's life and extraordinary friendships provide a window into the politics, literature, society, and diplomacy of this remarkable era of American expansion.
Mark Twain and the Colonel tells the story of America between 1890 and 1910 through the fully engaged involvement of the era's two most vital participants: Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. At this pivotal moment in our history, the previously frontier-driven expansion of America was being replaced by an America that had begun to legitimately think of itself as a world power, and a dominant presence and leader on the international stage. No longer merely a successful experiment in democracy and republicanism, America saw tensions arise between those focused on which areas of American life necessitated radical progress, and which required devout preservation. Tensions like these manifested nowhere more tellingly than between our greatest humorist and our youngest President, whose warring visions of what America could and ought to be were radically different, but nevertheless laid the bedrock for modern America - its arguments, achievements, and aspirations - as we came to see it through the twentieth century, and to the present day.
Acclaimed historian Philip McFarland illuminates three distinct periods when Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in the bucolic village of Concord, Massachusetts. On his wedding day in 1842, the author escorts his new wife, Sophia, to their first home, the Old Manse. There, enriched by friendships with Thoreau and Emerson, he enjoys an idyllic time. But three years later, unable to make enough money from his writing, he returns ingloriously, with his wife and infant daughter, to live in his mother's home in Salem. In 1853 Hawthorne moves back to Concord, now the renowned author of "The Scarlet Letter and "The House of the Seven Gables. Eager to resume writing fiction at the seene of his earlier happiness, he assembles a biography of his college friend Franklin Pierce, who is running for president. When Pierce wins the election. Hawthorne is appointed the lucrative post of consul in Liverpool. Coming home from Europe in 1860, as America hovers on the verge of civil war, Hawthorne settles down in Concord once more, a town brimming with abolitionist sentiment. He tries to take up writing one last time, but deteriorating health finds him withdrawing into private life. In "Hawthorne in Concord McFarland "paints a selective, complex, and ultimately enriching portrait of America's earliest psychological novelist in his middle years" ("Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
So you're the little lady who started the war," Abraham Lincoln is rumored to have said when he met the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation. Harriet Beecher Stowe's groundbreaking novel--three thousand copies sold on the first day, a million by the year's end--made her the most famous woman in America and forced an ambivalent North to confront the atrocities of slavery, yet her accomplishment was just one of many of the Beechers, the most eminent American family of the nineteenth century. In this intimate account, Philip McFarland follows the Beecher clan to the frontier boom town of Cincinnati, where Harriet's glimpses of slavery across the Kentucky border moved her to pen Uncle Tom's Cabin. We meet Harriet's foremost loves: her father Lyman, her husband Calvin, and her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, the most famous preacher of his time whose trial for adultery riveted the nation. As McFarland leads us through Harriet's ever-changing world, he traces the arc of her literary career from her hardscrabble beginnings as a breadwinning freelancer to her ascendancy as the most renowned writer of her day. More than the portrait of a family and their most famous daughter, Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe is a detailed rendering of mid-nineteenth-century America in the midst of unprecedented social and demographic explosions. Drawing on a vast reservoir of Beecher Stowe's correspondence and other contemporary documents, McFarland crafts the story of one of America's defining families into an unforgettable national portrait.
Mark Twain and the Colonel tells the story of two dominant figures in American culture and politics at the turn of the twentieth century. Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt were often in New York City during this time period and their paths crossed often. In their many appearances before the public, neither was heard to speak ill of the other. But in private they unburdened their minds more candidly, Roosevelt on one occasion volunteering that he would like to skin Mark Twain alive, and Twain saying that he thought Roosevelt to be far and away the worst President we have ever had. Philip McFarland tells the story of the rich years of American history between 1890 and 1910 through the fully engaged involvement of two of its most vital participants. The story begins in 1900, with a welcome on the New York piers extended to one of the nation's best loved figures as he returns from nearly a decade of self-imposed exile. The narrative then unfolds in six sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the United States of the early twentieth century that continues to matter to this day: America as an imperialist nation, America as a continental nation, America as a racial nation, America as a corporate nation, America at home, and America striving for peace. The story nears its end ten years later, in 1910, with that same figure returning once more to Manhattan, beshawled, seated on a deckchair, derby on his head, carried down the gangway while reporters wait on the pier yet again to welcome him home a final time. In this short span of years, the America of the late nineteenth century will move substantially closer to the America we know today, thanks in part to the influence and actions of Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt, two of the most influential figures of the age.
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