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John C. Calhoun: American Portrait Audiobook

John C. Calhoun: American Portrait

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Publisher's Summary

Author Margaret Coit's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of John C. Calhoun is a towering accomplishment in the writing of American history, powerful in the fullest sense of the word. This is no bland recital of dates and events. It is a searing, blinding, cascading roller coaster of emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and above all, human, history. The listener lives through hot, sleepy days on the South Carolina frontier of Calhoun's youth; goes with him to Yale in 1802 where the scent of the sea wafted in through his rooms; to the stern, New England town of Litchfield, Connecticut and its law school to study under Federalist mentors, and where students were expected to wear buckled breeches and ruffled stocks.

Muddy, primitive Washington, D.C. comes to life in the terrible years when our national tragedy of disunion was unfolding, with Jackson, Benton, Randolph, Webster, Clay, and Calhoun each struggling in his own way to avert catastrophe. When you have known the great South Carolinian at all the stages of his life; when you have lived through the events which determined his views; and when you have followed the path of his relentless logic - then you will finally understand our Civil War as few of us have ever been able to understand it before. In Miss Coit's brilliant story of Calhoun's personal life we discover a man of human frailties and human magnificence, much different from the image in those brooding photographs. And for the first time we understand how John C. Calhoun held the passionate loyalty of his people.

©1950 Estate of Margaret L. Coit (P)2014 Audio Connoisseur

What the Critics Say

"Provides far and away the most detailed, vivid, and convincing personal characterization of Calhoun we have." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Nation)

What Members Say

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  • T Duff
    Denver
    03/03/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful subject, beautifully told and narrated"
    What made the experience of listening to John C. Calhoun: American Portrait the most enjoyable?

    I knew little of John C. Calhoun and only had a superficial understanding of the old deep antebellum South apart from the lone issue of slavery. I found the subject extremely interesting and exotic. This is an excellent personal and cultural history. The writing style, which at first strikes one as archaic, takes on a life and character of its own and adds greatly to the experience. One of the finest political biographies I have encountered in years.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • George Bailey
    Bedford Falls, NY
    14/09/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A portrait of the man and the politician"
    Would you consider the audio edition of John C. Calhoun: American Portrait to be better than the print version?

    No


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Calhoun


    What does Charlton Griffin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    A voice


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The last chapter.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a masterpiece. It is a shame Calhoun has been forgotten (deliberately) by mainstream American culture. He embodied true and authentic American character - something you rarely see in government anymore.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • loganb
    Boston, MA
    07/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great biography of one member of the Triumverate "

    This book does a great job of explaining Calhoun's Scottish-Irish background.

    We then are told about how Calhoun went to Yale (1802). During his time at Yale he was exposed to the New England view that if the United States started a war with Britain that negatively affected New England's trade relationship with them that they (New England) could secede from the union of states.

    The book explains how the strong will of his wife could possibly have been the cause that Calhoun never became president. His wife, Floride, was responsible for ostracizing Peggy Eaton for an alleged adulterous affair with her 2nd husband while her 1st husband was still alive (before he committed suicide).

    We then learn about the 1832 Tariff, a protectionist tariff that benefitted New England diversified merchants more than southern cotton farmers. This tariff leads to the nullification crisis and tensions from the crisis lead to Calhoun's resignation of the Vice Presidency.

    Overall, it's a great read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Harris
    17/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perfect book on Calhoun"

    Not only did I know Calhoun but I felt I knew early America. Highly recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Damian
    12/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a magnificent and illuminating..."

    Biography on a well-known but little understood American statesman. The content of this lyrical work was only exceeded by the performance of the narrator whose resonate delivery augmented a truly monumental work. Politicians today could learn much from the statesman who was John C Calhoun and the eulogy of his opponent, Dan'l Webster who said: "Whatever his aspirations, they were high honorable and Noble. There was nothing mean, nor low, nor grovelingly selfish that came near the head or heart of John C Calhoun."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Leigh R. Bartram
    28/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hidden Treasure"
    Would you consider the audio edition of John C. Calhoun: American Portrait to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the print version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    John C. Calhoun, modern history has overlooked this amazing constitutionalist.


    Which character – as performed by Charlton Griffin – was your favorite?

    John C. Calhoun


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Toward the end of Calhoun's life, he seemed to be clairvoyant & able to predict the future. His desire to keep the Union together gave him his daily breath.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was really in-depth & layered, it loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • SydSavvy
    PARIS, TX, United States
    29/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well, I guess at least we still have History"

    Life is just so weird. I was listening to this for research when a political movement happened to take Calhoun's name off of a hall or dorm in Yale. I don't agree with Calhoun, and maybe he doesn't deserve the honor. But it seems to me that if we rewrite history, we will revisit it. The take away from this book is how early on Calhoun realized the South's doom. Instead of figuring out a way to stop it at that moment, he perpetuated the doom by speaking for it. That's his great failing. We need to remember this failed legacy.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew
    Portland, ME, United States
    28/10/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Buyer beware! poor narration and more..."

    The book has many flaws, and I find it extraordinary how it could possibly have won a Pulitzer. It is surprisingly lacking in historical context, and seems more like hagiography than biography. I continue to listen i hopes that I would better understand why Calhoun is cited as the father of modern american right-wing thought.

    but it is the narration that is truly baffling. it seeks to imbue calhoun with heroism while breaking lines at strange places. It is more like a sermon than a narration. Where the producer was during the production I have no clue - it is not just sonorous but silly.

    Buyer beware!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gregory
    22/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "In depth portrayal of Calhoun"
    Where does John C. Calhoun: American Portrait rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Good but not great


    Would you recommend John C. Calhoun: American Portrait to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes if they want to understand better the philosophy and thinking that motivated Calhoun


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Calhoun: Defender of the South


    Any additional comments?

    The author really provides a very in depth look at Calhoun and how he was motivated by a combination of his philosphical thinking and his South Carolina roots. However, often times the author goes into too much detail about a scene or conversation . I did not need to know that ther was a stain on Calhoun's shirt, or that President Jackson's cane was Tennesse oak.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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