James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity

A biography of James Monroe who became the fifth president of the United States in 1816 Ammon recreates his remarkable career, through his service in the revolutionary army, the Confederation Congress, to his exertions in James Madison s cabinet and his subsequent presidency.
James Monroe The Quest for National Identity A biography of James Monroe who became the fifth president of the United States in Ammon recreates his remarkable career through his service in the revolutionary army the Confederation Congress

  • Title: James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity
  • Author: Harry Ammon
  • ISBN: 9780813912660
  • Page: 118
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity”

    1. Though published over forty years ago, it is easy to see at a glance why Ammon's biography of James Monroe has never been bettered. This is an exhaustive examination of the political life of our fifth president -- and an exhausting one. Ammon goes through Monroe's life with a thoroughness that makes this a book an excellent source of information about Monroe, but at the price of making it an excruciatingly dull read at times. If you want to know everything there is to know about Monroe's politic [...]

    2. bestpresidentialbios/2013/“James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity” by Harry Ammon was originally published in 1971, making it the oldest of the well-read biographies of our fifth president (though this is not a particularly crowded field). Ammon is formerly a Professor of History at Southern Illinois University and the author of “The Genet Mission.”Long regarded as a “go to” biography of Monroe, Ammon’s book is clearly intended primarily to inform and not to entertain. Like [...]

    3. This is probably my least favorite presidential biography so far. Ammon's sentence structure was confusing and I often I had to re-read sentences to try and figure out what he was saying. However, I did appreciate that Ammon did not "modernize" the direct quotations. I enjoyed being able to experience the original written style.

    4. Harry Ammon tackles a tough subject in his biography of James Monroe because Monroe left scant information about his life for historians to examine. Unlike the Adams, who were compulsive savers of correspondence and records, Monroe destroyed them routinely.We don't really get to know James Monroe, the man. Nor do we get to know much about his wife, Elizabeth.Ammon is superb in his policy and political analysis. This is a good book for presidential biography wonks. Ammon comes up short in animati [...]

    5. A remarkably detailed account of his life as a public servant, while sadly lacking much personal detail due mostly to Monroe's own desires. My only disappointment is that Ammon wrote almost nothing about Monroe's slave ownership, despite ample opportunities to broach the subject. The book masterfully sets up the biographies of John Quincy Adams--a brilliant and loyal cabinet member, and Andrew Jackson--an eccentric and determined general; the next two American Presidents.

    6. A very solid, informative read. It tended to be somewhat on the flattering side, but it seemed relatively objective. I learned a great deal about this period and it showed very nicely how Monroe fit into the succession of Presidents, and particularly his relationships with jefferson and madison.I'd recommend it.

    7. James Monroe, although not our most exciting president, was certainly popular being the last president to run unopposed in the election of 1820. I think there is some debate over whether we can call James Monroe a Founding Father. Although he is certainly of the founding generation, he played only a minor role in founding of the country. He was a company officer in the Army of George Washington, fighting in the famous Battle of Trenton in which Washington and his men crossed the Delaware to surp [...]

    8. James Monroe is one of our more overlooked Founding Fathers; in fat, he is often not considered one of the Founding Fathers at all, or at least is seen as a more peripheral one. It is rather astonishing, when one considers that he fought in the Revolution under Washington, rising to the rank of Colonel, represented his constituents in the Virginia Assembly, became the Washington Administration's Minister to France, was elected Governor of Virginia, helped negotiate the Lousinan Purchase, became [...]

    9. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity certainly isn't the most engaging or exciting biography to read. However, not knowing much about the man going into the book, I came out with a wealth of knowledge. I think the primary raison d'être for a biography is to educate; entertainment is strictly secondary. For that, this one does the trick and shines a light on a man sadly overshadowed by others.

    10. This was a spectacular biography of a major early American public servant. The amount of research Ammon put into this undertaking was gargantuan, and it shows in an incredibly detailed, rich account of the fifth president's accomplishments in and out of office.When I started this 570 plus page book, my knowledge of Monroe was quite limited. The Monroe Doctrine was familiar, as was his role in the so-called Era of Good Feelings, but my understanding was quite two-dimensional prior to cracking ope [...]

    11. It's hard not to marvel at Monroe's professional accomplishments; Revolutionary officer, Confederation Congress, Governor of Virginia (twice), Minister to France and general diplomat extraordinaire, Senator, Cabinet Secretary, and President (in no specific order). One would think he would be a fascinating historical character, the last of the Founding Father generation to be President. Unfortunately, Ammon's biography certainly provides the detail for those who are interested, but it's not an es [...]

    12. I liked this book - actually, a great deal. I had not known a lot about James Monroe and his Presidency, other than his issuance of the Monroe Doctrine (originally known as the "American System" until 1850, when it was called henceforth the Monroe Doctrine). As one of the "Founding Fathers," Monroe served a distinguished career in service to his country: revolutionary soldier under Washington (he played a significant role at Trenton), Ambassador to both France and Great Britain, Senator, Secreta [...]

    13. UPDATE: ok, this is a pretty good biography. It was very vague in the beginning, but Monroe didn't keep many of his private letters. However, I did have to read Coomb's "The Jay Treaty: Political Battleground of the Founding Fathers" (which was excellent) to fully understand Ammon's references to that time period. The book continues to be annoyingly vague until Monroe steps into the role of Secretary of War/State during Madison's tenure, then it starts getting really good. I would have liked a l [...]

    14. Monroe is unjustly criticized sometimes. He was ethical and sincere, and he did a bang-up job working as a diplomat and being a dutiful president. He just had a lot of politics swirling around him as the Revolutionary generation headed into retirement and all the next generation struggled to take their places in positions of power. Everyone wanted to drag Monroe into fights and scandals and he just wanted to be neutral and make an awesome country with a respected and respectful place in the worl [...]

    15. Confession: I didn't finish this book because it was due back at the library and I couldn't get it checked out again in the time frame I wanted. I got to the last hundred or so pages and had to turn it in. I wish I could have finished it, but it's not fascinating enough to go to the trouble of checking out again (have to use InterLibrary Loan to get it).I actually thought this was an excellent biography of a rather boring guy who just didn't have a lot of drama in his life. Although he lived thr [...]

    16. This is one of the best biographies on the not only the life of James Monroe but on the development of the United States role in world affairs. The author clearly assesses not only the role that Monroe played but also the exogenous factors that led to the development of the country. By framing this through Monroe's life we can clearly see his development along with that of the country at clear and critical junctures. From the early days of the revolution to the diplomacy of Europe to his time as [...]

    17. James Monroe is the man I'll blame for finally breaking down and determining that I need a Kindle. The Ammon biography is bulky, and terrible for commuting. As a result, this took months to read. The book itself is a solid story about the somewhat complicated political life of James Monroe. I thought the political battles were really interesting, and only wished a bit more focus was put on his years as president. The majority of the book is before the presidential years, which totally makes sens [...]

    18. This is a well-written and balanced biography on Monroe. I was a little disappointed with the fact that his presidency is not covered more, but he lived a full life after all. This still is the standard.

    19. Very informative biography that spends a decent amount of time on every period of Monroe's life. Coverage and analysis of his presidency is particularly good. It's sometimes a bit dry, but that seems more the result of Monroe himself than how the book is written.

    20. For a thick presidential biography, this one is not very good. a lot of details that didn't really need to be in there, and I didn't feel like I knew Monroe as well as I should have after reading it.

    21. A very thorough and enlightnening read. No one will read this book unless they're really interested, but Ammon does a great job of showing Monroe as well as possible.

    22. Great if you want a super detailed blow-by-blow account of his presidency. Not so great if you want to know about his personal life.

    23. If you want to know about the growing pains of a young nation, this book is it. If you want to be inspired, read something else.

    24. Four stars for thoroughness, three stars for entertainment value. Monroe was a comparatively boring, peacetime president, and the book reflects that.

    25. This Madison biography is not for casual readers at nigh on 600 pages but lovers of American history and biographies should enjoy it immensely.

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