Daniel Ligon's Reviews > Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants

Heirs of the Founders by H.W. Brands
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really liked it
bookshelves: net-galley, history

Well written but not groundbreaking. I'm fascinated by this period of American history and have read quite a few books about this segment of history and dealing with these men. While Brands' Heirs of the Founders is one of the most readable, it's less cohesive and detailed than it could be.

Clay, Calhoun, and Webster have great stories, and Brands is a wonderful storyteller. He chooses to approach their lives from a topical, usually chronological perspective. This is effective at covering the political drama of the period, but less successful when it comes to getting to know the main characters. At times, it feels like this book was just about this time period of American history, rather than focusing on the three stars. The book is sparse with details about the upbringing, families, and personal lives of the titular characters. Also, in its focus on politics, Clay, Calhoun, and Webster slip into the background at times. I feel like Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams were given about as much press as the others. Another flaw is that Brands tends to wander down rabbit trails a bit. He spends a whole chapter dealing with the (admittedly fascinating) story of Solomon Northrup, just to illustrate the mood of the times.

If you are looking for a very readable book about the political history of America circa 1810-1850, by all means, check this out. However, if you mainly want to learn more about Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, you might be better served looking elsewhere, perhaps to The Great Triumvirate (drier, but more biographical) by Merrill Peterson. I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are entirely my own.
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Reading Progress

May 24, 2018 – Shelved
May 24, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 24, 2018 – Shelved as: net-galley
May 24, 2018 – Shelved as: history
September 25, 2018 – Started Reading
September 29, 2018 –
26.0%
October 5, 2018 –
48.0%
October 15, 2018 –
68.0%
October 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

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