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Atlas, James, ed. Eminent Lives: The Presidents Collection.

ATLAS, James, ed. Eminent lives: The Presidents collection. Read by Sam Tsoutsouvas. George Washington, by Paul Johnson; Thomas Jefferson, by Christopher Hitchens; Ulysses S. Grant, by Michael Korda. Harper Audio. 11 cds. 13 hrs. 2006. 0-0608-7875-4. $39.95. Cardboard; content notes. SA

Johnson's Washington gives general readers, students, and scholars a thumbnail sketch of our first president. He began buying land at 18, and by his mid-20s he had acquired 10,000 acres. He served in the French and Indian War, becoming an officer at age 22. He married a rich widow, Martha Custis, won the Revolutionary War, and became the first president of the new republic.

Hitchens's Jefferson emphasizes the contradiction of our third president. Like Washington, Jefferson was a surveyor who owned slaves and did not resolve the slavery issue when he wrote the Constitution. In fact, he urged the freeing and deportation of blacks, but was against the black government of Haiti, where the freed American slaves might have gone. He fought the Barbary pirates, doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase (four cents per acre), and sent Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory in 1803.

Korda's Grant is a sympathetic portrait of the tough Civil War general and poor administrator who became president almost by acclamation. "Unconditional Surrender" Grant had an unpromising childhood with a mother who was indifferent at best and a father who constantly put him down. Still, Grant had many virtues. He was guileless, naive, honest, brave, and reserved, and he had the quiet determination of a bulldog, as Robert E. Lee was to discover. The Civil War was his making. After Lincoln's assassination, both parties sought Grant as a candidate. His views on reconstruction were complicated, but he brought the South back into the Union and calmed the country. His two terms were rocked by scandal.

Sam Tsoutsouvas reads these eminent lives with intelligence and an engaging style. The series is highly recommended. Janet Julian, English Teacher (retired), Grafton, MA

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.
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Author:Julian, Janet
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Audiobook review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:374
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