Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Remembering the Ladies by Ann Covell

In this 21st century, America's First Lady is as well known as her husband due to world-wide modern technology. In the 19th century, however, it was difficult for the public to even know who the president's wife was. Even today it is not easy to call to mind those pioneering First Ladies, many of whom were burdened with more than their fair share of misfortune and some almost forgotten

This book provides an insight into the lives of the 19th century First Ladies, in an undemanding, easy-to-read style, and aims to raise awareness of the historical significance of these women. Their abridged stories, sometimes joyful, sometimes sad, range from slavery, bigamy, duels, royal snubs, European conflicts, American wars, assassinations and suffrage, and demonstrate how the Ladies might be seen as victims of history. The text includes a basic review of the restricted evolution of the First Lady role during the first hundred years. The aim is that the book will encourage foundational study in colleges and schools, and inspire anyone who is interested in presidential history to deeper levels of publications and study.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. It was nice to see the First Ladies in a different light than the usual three lines in the history texts.  Frankly though, all their portraits made them seem miserable. I'm not sure if that was a result of being First Lady or if they were miserable before. Dolley Madison was actually the most marginally likable, but I wouldn't have wanted to be friends with any of the lot. This educational, well written book makes a worthy read for any history fan.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


Man of la Books said...

Dolly Madison, in my understanding, was the one that defined the role of first lady (being that her husband wasn't much of a schmoozer). I think the first ladies had a lot of pressure on them starting with Mrs. Madison (before that they accompanied their husbands, sometimes, but didn't have to behave as first lady as the government was small).

Dolly Madison had an interesting life, there are several good biographies of her.

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