Thursday, July 4, 2013

"American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence" by Jane Cook

Book Description:  American Phoenix tells the gripping story of John Quincy Adams’s “honorable exile” during the War of 1812 and the harrowing journey of his wife, Louisa, to be reunited with her family.

American diplomat John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa, had two things in common with the audacious Napoleon Bonaparte—speaking perfect French and living in exile. American Phoenix reveals the untold true story of Quincy’s unexpected nomination as the top US envoy to Russia in 1809, and Louisa’s agony at being forced to leave their six- and eight-year old boys behind in Boston. Believing that ambition can never repay such sacrifice, she clings to the hope of reuniting with her sons in a year. Pretention, royal dissipation, extreme weather, covert political maneuvers, French interference, private tragedy, and two great wars trap them in St. Petersburg longer than their worst fears. Their personal story is soon swept into the public drama of Napoleon’s war with Russia and America’s war with Great Britain, which ultimately force John Quincy and Louisa to live apart. When Napoleon escapes his exile, his march to reclaim Paris threatens to forever separate John Quincy and Louisa from each other and their children back home.

American Phoenix uncovers the challenges, fears, sorrows, joys, triumphs, and faith that come when life—no matter the era—takes an unexpected journey.
Review:  The American Phoenix is a book about John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812,and the Exile that saved American Independence. The story includes many excerpts from the diaries and letters of  John and Louisa Adams. It gives a unique perspective from a woman's viewpoint during an important time in our country's history. 

Louisa Adams sacrificed just as much, if not more for our country than her husband. Jane Hampton Cook makes the story and the period of history it entails come alive for the reader. You can almost feel the raw emotions of John and Louisa Adams during each of their experiences, whether exuberant or melancholy. 

Cook artfully describes the weather in Russia, the struggles of sailing from Boston to Russia, and even the fear that each character must overcome in order to survive the long years in Russia and away from their beloved family. The plight of John Quincy and Louisa Adams as they with very limited financial assets and means co-mingled and represented the newly independent nation, America, amongst the wealthy and aristocratic societies of Russia and France and their struggle to appear to have more financial means to spend on clothes and entertainment. 

The War of 1812 is presented as crucial to our nation's gaining recognition among the nations of the world as a force capable of defending itself and as an international trade entity. American Phoenix is a must read! (rev. M.Godley and. V.Godley)

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence for the purpose of review from BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer.

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