The Founders at Home -- The Building of America, 1735-1817 by Myron Magnet, Norton '13, $35, 480 pages, ASIN #0393240215. Index, notes, no bibliography, two groupings of color glossy images, other b&w images sprinkled through text.
Author George Will perhaps captures best the gist of Myron Magnet's argument in The Founders at Home: "We can better understand the Founders, who shaped how we live, if we better understand how they lived in the homes they designed and social circles that radiated from those homes. The American Revolution, he argues, was a success because of its moderation, and this virtue suffused the Founders' lives."
To accomplish this, historian Magnet analyzes biographically "the military and political genius of the first president, George Washington, to the consummate diplomat John Jay, from the 'firebrands' William Livingston and the Lee brothers to Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson." And it it is the essence of his message that readers examine the photographs, plans, and drawings of their stately homes, from Washington's manse at Mount Vernon to the much less ornate Hamilton Grange; from Montpelier and Monticello to the Lees' home in Stratford.
Myron Magnet "also looks at controversy with a clear eye, particularly the question of slavery, which shaped these men's lives, influenced their actions, and often caught them up in complex dilemmas, most particularly in Jefferson's case. Jefferson's majestic home at Monticello seems to reflect that ambiguity; it was built to separate the slaves who served the house from the living areas using tunnels and gadgets that maintained a palpable distance, even as Jefferson caried on a long-running affair with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves."
Perhaps most tellingly, Magnet describes "a turning point in world history, a personalized explanation of why the American Revolution, of all great revolutions, was the only successful one, resulting in two centuries of unparalleled freedom and prosperity."
Author Myron Magnet, editor-at-large of City Journal was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2008. He has written or edited numerous other books and lives in New York City.
Chris Christie -- The Inside Story of his Rise to Power by Bob Ingle & Michael Symons, St. Martin's Press '13 paperback. $15.99, 333 pages, ASIN #1250031265. Index, notes, no bibliography, grouping of b&w images.
From the back cover:
"Drawing on interviews with Chris Christie himself, his family, and his many long-time supporters as well as political opponents, (authors) Bob Ingle and Michael Symons trace Christie's life. He grew up in New Jersey, surrounded by a big, roiling Italian-American family, where his mother, Sondra, and grandmother, Anne, were powerful influences.
"Surprisingly, his political career nearly ended after a bruising loss in a local county campaign, but was revived when Christie was appointed U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, which led him to being elected governor. Despite calls to run for president, Christie reiterated his commitment to reforming New Jersey.
"Beneath Christie's combative public persona is an intensely loyal family man, whose deep roots in New Jersey shape his core values. Written by New York Times best-selling author Bob Ingle and fellow journalist Michael Symons, who have covered the governor's political career for more than a decade, Chris Christie offers the first inside portrait of this fascinating man."
Bob Ingle is co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Soprano State, which was made into a 2011 documentary. Michael Symons is a veteran New Jersey journalist, currently based on Press Row in the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.