Thursday, June 27, 2013


American Phoenix: 

John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence

By Jane Cook
Published by Thomas Nelson 

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.


About the Author

Award-winning  author   Jane   Hampton   Cook   makes   history   and  biographies  relevant  to today's news, current  events,  issues  of   faith,   and  modern-day  life.  A  public  speaker  and frequent national media guest, Jane is the author of seven books, including her  newest  work,  American  Phoenix (May 2013) about John Quincy and Louisa Adams and the  War  of  1812. She is also a former White House webmaster.

In American Phoenix, John Quincy and Louisa must form an alliance with the czar of Russia to  end  the War of 1812 and secure American independence once and for all. In many  ways this  Adams  and   his  Eve's  banishment  becomes  the  nation's   salvation.   Their   Russian destination changes US destiny.

Jane is the author of:
American Phoenix
Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War
Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan (co-author)
The Faith of America's First Ladies

Children's books:
What Does the President Look Like?
B is for Baylor
Maggie Houston

She lives with her husband and two sons in Fairfax, Virginia. Jane is expecting her third child at the end of July 2013.


Reader review . . . 

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 thoughts and feelings.  I was more familiar with the story of John and Abigail, and had no idea how strong Louisa was.  She suffered multiple health problems along with the heartbreak of losing children and a long separation for her older sons. 

One complaint:  I like both historical fiction and nonfiction, but the author seems to blur the line between the two at times.  While this rather lengthy book is at times a dry, scholarly tome, periodically Ms. Cook conjectures as to what a character MAY have worn or thought.  Also, the frequent comparisons between the Nineteenth Century and the present were distracting.  However, this is still an excellent book about a woman often overlooked. 

 3.5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 



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