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American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile That Saved American Independence

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  29 reviews
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 g
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Thomas Nelson
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Cheryl Powell
It's obvious that a great deal of research went into this book. The writing, however, would have benefited from the services of a good editor. The author has the ability to pound a literary allusion into the ground. If I had seen one more reference to Adam, Eve and their fig leaves, I would have screamed. I also felt that referring to the Czar of Russia as "his royal flirtiness" did not serve the material well. It's a pity that the execution wasn't more polished as it is a fascinating story. I w ...more
Jordan Mierek

When I first received my copy in the mail, I opened the package an set it on the kitchen table while I prepared dinner. My father honed in on the cover – Adams and his wife ordering script – and asked what it was about. After I explained I’d gotten it to read and review, he asked, “Can I read it as soon as you’
Dan Nieman
I am sure that it was in commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, that inspired Jane Hampton Cook to pen American Phoenix.

The history/ biography of John and Louisa Adams is a well researched, well crafted story of the fall of John Quincy Adams from his Senate seat, from which he expected to carry on the heritage begun by his father, John Adams. This hope was dashed when the political winds of fortune blew against him and caused him to resign the seat he so desired.

He left the Senate
Jason Raines
his superb history chronicles the “honorable exile” John Quincy Adams and his wife endured in pre-Soviet Russia. Using diary entries from both husband and wife, Jane Hampton Cook gives fascinating details into the intrigue of the diplomatic corps in Europe during the days of kingly courts, while also giving treatment to the challenges of representing the nascent republic of the United States. The Adams’ financial stresses and traumatic personal losses were endured while declining an opportunity ...more
This was a thorough and engaging account of John Quincy & Louisa Adams' years in Russia while JQ served as diplomat. A good balance of several topics - historically significant negotiations (at a time when failure could mean the end of an independent America), social life at the Russian court, and the personalities and marriage of Louisa and JQ. Louisa's homesickness, her weariness of the never-ending social engagements, and her depression after losing a child all make her very real and rela ...more
While this is supposed to be a non-fiction book it reads way too much like a novel. History doesn't need authors to plant misleading cliff hangers in it. Way too much speculation is also present. If you can't research things you don't make up speculation about motives and actions.
I read this book because I wanted to learn more about Louisa Adams and the Adams' time in Russia. I did gain new information, but I really wish this book had been better written. The author seemed to find calling Louisa "Eve" to John Quincy's "Adam" clever and decided to use it repeatedly throughout the book. I failed to find it cute the first time. I was also annoyed with the author's speculation on the cause of the many miscarriages Louisa suffered. Her implication that modern medicine would h ...more
What audience needs to be told that the Adams did not have cell phones?
On August 5, 1809, John and Louisa Adams left Boston to sail to Russia where he would become the first U.S. ambassador to the court of Czar Alexander I. The five years they spent there would change the course of history.

Using the diaries and correspondence of both John and Louisa, Ms. Cook has put together a detailed account of their years in Russia, with the emphasis on Louisa's experiences. Fortunately, Louisa Adams kept detailed diaries, chronicling not only their daily activities, but her th
Victor Gentile
Jane Hampton Cook in her new book “American Phoenix” published by Thomas Nelson gives us the story of John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence

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-Sov
Bob Allen
I had not read anything about JQ Adams except what has been in biographies about John Adams or others of that time. So, the book was interesting from that perspective. It could have easily been 100 pages shorter. Another reviewer commented that there were a lot of speculative statements — "she might have...," "perhaps...". I did not care for the way Cook handled the time sequences. For her to have started with Louisa's journey between St. Petersburg and Paris was fine. However, all throughout th ...more
Brenten Gilbert
In the early 1800s, America was a fledgling nation with little clout on the global stage. We had won our independence from England, but were still largely considered a British subsidiary nation. Earning a place a world power would take another war and unparalleled diplomacy. Both requirements were fulfilled by the War of 1812, an oft-overlooked engagement that provided a platform for the United States to flex their military might and for John Quincy Adams to demonstrate a diplomatic deftness tha ...more
K. Osborn
I love when writers focus on parts of our American history that few have read about in-depth. No, I'm not criticizing...I, for one, hardly knew who the War of 1812 even involved...and I am a student of History! (No, you may NOT have my diploma back!)

The author, Jane Hampton Cook, took a lesser-known, though very important, time period and retold the story in such a fresh, light, and interesting way that I burned through this hefty 400+ page tome without even thinking of it as non-fiction. (See t
ACS Book-finder
The War of 1812 has often been regarded a forgotten war, or even worse, an unnecessary war. In her well written book, “American Phoenix”, not only does Jane Hampton Cook debunk those theories, in the process she opens the reader’s mind to a side of two of the most influential people of that generation, John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa.

Written in an intriguing combination of an historical biography and novel, this work reveals the romantic connection that existed, not only between the Adams
The book up for review is “American Phoenix” by Jane Hampton Cook.

This is a heavy book in page count and content. It is a story about Louisa Adam and John Quincy Adams. It takes place prior to him becoming president of the United States of America. The story starts off with JQA being disgraced in Washington and leaving his post. His saving grace, a position in Russia representing the new USA which is still learning her identity. She is far from the superpower we know it to be now. It progress th
Lia Burres
“American Phoenix” by Jane Hampton Cook is a book that is about John Quincy and Louisa Adam’s unexpected journey that changed everything. It is a tale of a grand historic adventure across the oceans and the frozen tundra. From the bustling ports and towering birches and even reaching the pre-Soviet Russia and much more of their adventures are included in this book for your enjoyment.

These various landscapes, Mr. Adams and his wife must figure out how to transform everything into their American s
Lisa Johnson
Title: American Phoenix: John Quincy Adams and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence
Author: Jane Hampton Cook
Pages: 450
Year: 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
This is an amazingly detailed recounting from the private journals of John Quincy Adams and Louisa Adams before he was President of the United States. The time period is around 1815, with a look back at various events in historical context that took place before this time to provide information relevant t
Jerry Kolwinska
A bit slow if you like a biography that moves along with exciting events; however, the premise of the novel is that John Quincy Adams played a major role in our struggle for recognition as a nation. With that in mind, the events reconstructed from the personal correspondence of this couple demonstrate the crucial role that JQA played in the Russian court as well, then his role in the drafting of the Treaty of Ghent.

All in all a very good history lesson.
I won this book through Goodreads' First Reads program in exchange for my honest review.

This is a solid look at John Quincy Adams' stay in Russia as an American diplomat. It goes into great detail, sometimes too great (one can only read about so many balls and parties), of how Adams revived his political career by garnering recognition from Russia and negotiating the Treaty of Ghent. It draws greatly from Adams and his wife, Louisa's personal diaries, so you really get the personal experience of
Dave Hoff
Book runs parallel with the book on James Madison during his Presidency. Poor Louisa Adams, her husband J. Quincy & father-in-law forcing her to go to St. Petersburg, leaving 2 sons behind. Quincy, filling a new position of a minister plenipotentiary to Russia needed his wife along. World was a mess of Wars, embargos & impressing sailors off American ships while the elite lived royally, but not John Q. .
Julie Wolthuis
Really enjoyed this book. It read much like a novel rather than a dry account of history.
The subject was really interesting, but the author's style dropped it down at least a star for me.
I love the detail and focus on such a short time in such an illustrious career. The reason I only gave it 3 stars was the constant comparison to life today. Anyone who picks up this book already has the background knowledge to know John Quincy and Louisa didn't have the convenience of telephones, internet and fast modes of transportation. It really put me off. Otherwise, I love to see new books on such a great figure in American history.
History comes alive as the author tells of John Quincy & Louisa Adams time in St. Petersburg, Russia, establishing America as an independent country in the world. The author depicts the hardships of travel in the early 19th century, the considerable expense of the career of a minister in a foreign country amid the glitter of emperors and courts, and the personal struggles of a couple far from home. Read my full review here:
Very good - well written - reader friendly American/world history
I enjoyed this book despite the fact that the author mentioned comparisons to Adam and Eve too much as well as bringing the telephone up more than was necessary. I thought that despite these flaws, the book was approachable and decently written. This was something I have never read much about so I found it great to enrich my knowledge.
Lori Lenhard
It was a little long in some places, but overall I really enjoyed this book! I learned a lot about our sixth president, his wife, and the War of 1812. It read like a novel.
Very facinating. This book was so in depth and really made me feel like i was there at all of these events. John Quincy Adams is really a forgotten president but after reading this book I really cant tell why.
Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Sep 02, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: Adding ebook edition 8 18 Nov 20, 2014 09:57AM  
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Jane Hampton Cook makes history relevant to news, politics, current events, and modern life. She is the award-winning author of eight books, including her newest on the War of 1812, America’s Star-Spangled Story (Aug. 2014) and Pulitzer-nominated American Phoenix (Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins, 2013), which brings to life the international side of the War of 1812 through the diplomacy ...more
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