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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A presidential hopeful has taken a beautiful, vulnerable woman as his mistress, though both are married to others. His rival for the presidency of the United States has even more sensational secrets to guard about his own past. An ambitious journalist unearths the stories of the private lives of both, and he hefts in his hand what he calls "the hammer of truth."
The time...more
Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published (first published 2000)
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Usually I am skeptical of "historical novels" or "docu-dramas." The authors usually do NOT intend to separate fact from fiction and, but choose to cloud their story to present something closer to what they "would have liked to have really happened" so that it fits within their ideology. Accuracy be damned! Such is the arrogance of many of today's history story-tellers. A popular example of this is Oliver Stone.
William Safire approaches things differently. He has done his homework and actually k...more
Safire has done his homework, creating a fictionalized version of the Pamphleteers accounts of political events and scandals circa 1800 in the U.S. A little slow but interesting to read about the accounts of criminal trials during the time of the Sedition Act. American history fanatics will savor every paragraph of this well written historical fiction that's filled with mostly facts.
Early American political history is frought with scandal, intrigue, plots and schemes. From the moment Alexander Hamilton set himself in opposition to the Republican forefathers, the United States established a two-party system that often seems as if it divides the country rather than unites it. For those who feel that the current sentiments between Republicans and Democrats are filled with unparalleled animosity towards each other, you should definitely read Scandalmonger.

In this work of histor...more
Ron Charles
William Safire doesn't pull any punches. In his new book, he quotes the clerk of the House of Representatives dismissing one of the most famous presidential hopefuls: "A man who carried on with a whore in his own home when his wife was away? And then brought shame on his wife and children by confessing to it publicly? Never!"

We can hardly blame Safire for leaking this juicy outrage. After all, it's already 200 years old.

"Scandalmonger" is a smart, rollicking dramatization of the scandals that sh...more
It's not every day that a fictional novel is published with source notes and a bibliography. But this isn't your usual novel. As Safire explains both before and after the book, this novel is a true account based on contemporary documentation. He's taken much of the words written by the historical characters in letters and presented them as dialog between the characters. It's a unique approach that makes for an entertaining and informative read.

But what's the book about? Political intrigue, mainl...more
15 or 20 years ago, my mom recommended "Freedom" by William Safire. A historical novel based on the Civil War. It was a great book, so I was delighted to stumple upon his "Scandalmongers"(it was written in 2000). Safire takes historical fact and weaves in a little bit of fiction. The book follows with an 'underbook' that references what he writes that is real, and what is fiction. This book is set during George Washington's time and starts with a scandal concerning Alexander Hamilton. The newspa...more
Real historical people mix with a few fictional characters in this novel about political intrigue in the first years of our nation. The central figure is James Callender, who supported the Republicans and then the Federalists, making the switch largely for perceived affronts from Thomas Jefferson. This is fun to read, with much of it based on actual events. Safire makes a reasonable attempt to capture late 18th and early 19th century modes of thought and speech, with a lot of his dialogue copied...more
A fascinating, shocking, delightful mostly-true tale of the years of the Adams and Jefferson presidencies. It follows the adulterous scandal that barred Hamilton from the presidency, the numerous sexual scandals that nearly cost Jefferson his re-election, the tensions with France and England, and how a saucy and fearless journalist named Callender brought it all about. Everyone who ever thought American history was boring should read this book, and everyone who ever thought American history was...more
Oct 07, 2007 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
A fantastic historical novel about the mixture of agenda journalism and politics that fed the enmmity between Alexander Hamilton and his bitter rival, Thomas Jefferson. The scandalmonger is journalist James Callender, who published dirt on Hamilton's financial dealings. Hamilton fires back by leaking word of Jefferson's own amorous dealings with more than one woman. After reading "Scandalmonger," you'll never again think that journalistic feeding frenzies about politicians and their misdeeds --...more
0/5 stars.

This book was very dull, too thick to navigate, and the language was incomprehensible. I think I met everyone and no one, all of the characters being rather complex and difficult to follow.

I think this story was ill when we met and it slipped down to death until the end, as the plot was buried under heavy layers of detail for the duration of the read, but I don't feel it was a very educational sort of journey. Still, it revealed the troubled times in our country's early days: creating...more
I liked this book even more than I thought I would. Far from being boring or dry, this book brought history to life by leaning toward the "reality TV" angle of that period of history. And now I know what "Federalism" means. This period after G. Washington's presidency ended has always been pretty fuzzy in my mind, so this novel did a great job at making it memorable. I know it will stick with me. I figured that William Safire would offer a novel that is readable and entertaining, yet substantive...more
This book was quite excellent in some places and good in others. It was a good piece of historical fiction. It was so good in that regard, that it is a good thing that the author makes pains in the end to explain what was historical and what was fiction.

I do think the author played the part of a scandalmonger a bit himself here. Perhaps it is my own bias, but considering some of the things that were fiction, it seemed that he wanted to make clear which scandals of the founding fathers he felt we...more
I happened upon this book by chance. I had no idea Safire wrote fiction. This is the story of journalists during the presidencies of Adams and Jefferson. If you think jounalists dig dirt today, you should read what they wrote back then! Really interesting themes of truth vs. libel, freedom of the press, and public vs. personal behavior. The prose is more workmanlike than I'm used to in fiction, it reads more like non-fiction, but I enjoyed it immensely and promptly picked up some more titles co...more
I've read this book before, but Fritz and I just finished the HBO series John Adams and it got me interested in American history. This book is a novel written by a historian and it tells the story of a "tabloid" writer (real person)who uncovered Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave Sally. But the buildup to that shows how politics in this country is exactly the same as it was right after the American Revolution. It's not the easiest book to get into, but it does get interesting and it...more
This was recommended to me by a colleague or I might never have picked it up. Although I was a little slow to warm to the story, Safire did a great job of weaving the historical events into a suspenseful plot, and before long I was hooked. I love this period of American history, and enjoyed learning more about Cobbett and Callender. Finally, someone came forward to champion them.
My knowledge of the early history of the United States as a government was limited to the facts. The political warfare, scandals, and intrigues were news to me. It was rough and tumble time. We take the view that political scandals are something new but apparently, it was a part of the social fabric of early America.
Nenia Campbell
Dear god, this was tedious. While I appreciate the amount of research that went into writing Scandalmonger, and the critical acclaim of the author's NY Times articles, I found the characterization of the people themselves very wooden (and yes, I know that they're all prominent historical figures--that just makes it more sad) and the writing style extremely clunky. There would be entire passages that read like this:

Obscure Historical figure #1 scratched at the tie that he won in the 1798 Pie Eati...more
Louis Gary
Interesting historical themes: the meaning of freedom of the press right after the 2nd amendment is created and how did our great experiment of a democratic republic actually work with the personalities of that time. Great book for those who love historical fiction.
I never was interested in early American history when we studied it in highschool, but Scandalmonger turned it all around. Now I want to read about it all the time! Plus, who doesn't like William Safire (hello New York Times Magazine!)
Do not know if it was the clunky writing style or the handling of the subject matter, but I tossed this book aside quite quickly. May give it another chance before the summer is out (or it may end up at the thrift store).
Well written, excellent research, loved that he used their own words through letters and journal entries. How close we came to not being a country after so many had sacrificed so much.
A historical novel which takes place 1797-1806 and features
early pamphleteers and political news writers whose investigative
reporting targets Alexander Hamilton and Tom Jefferson.
Nov 12, 2011 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ruth
Recommended to Linda by: Today
Shelves: chcpl
A novel about the mudslinging that took place during the Revolutionary War period of the U.S. It's not new to modern times. It's been going on for hundreds of years.

A fascinating historical fiction based on real people who lived during America's Federal period. Fun to read. Compare to our politics of today.
Generally, I am not a fan of fictional accounts of actual events, but this one was very well researched and well done, and quite an enjoyable read.
A bit too dense in detailed history for me. Someone who loves this period and knows it well would probably love this book.
Denis Kaufman
Superb historical dramatization--with a few liberties taken--of a most interesting character and time.
Clay Davis
Safire's writing brings to life the men of that time.
Bob Lake
I hope I can make it thru this book...

I didn't
And we think politics is dirty today.....
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William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter.

He was perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for the New York Times and a regular contributor to "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine, a column on popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics.
More about William Safire...
Freedom Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History On Language How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar Full Disclosure

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