Charles N. Edel: Nation Builder

Charles Edel bring a singular passion and focus to this project John uincy Adams was a politician who did not hide being an intellectual He was also arguably the most cosmopolitan American of his generation having traveled widely throughout Europe in his teens and twenties This perspective coupled with fearsome intelligence made him uniuely ualified to serve as Secretary of State In an era when America s standing in the world is increasingly under threat Edel a master researcher and storyteller provides a much needed reexamination of our roots as a nation when we were an emerging rather than dominant power I d give it 15 stars As an biography it hits it s marks with interesting insights not found in general history books As a discussion of grand strategy it misses the markThe pieces are there but Edel loses the policy discussion halfway through the book Repetitive unevenly paced narrative No particularly novel analytic insights just well nown facts from publicly available sources viewed through the uestionable prism of grand strategy Edel was educated at Yale and it shows he hews to the grand strategy concept beloved of Walter Russell Mead John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy each of whom is prominently thanked in the acknowledgments It s not clear to me that this perspective has any real explanatory or analytic value uite often the scholars who look at things this way are simply using hindsight to ascribe foresight and conceptual America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy John uincy Adams's famous words are often uoted to justify noninterference in other nations' affairs Yet when he spoke them Adams was not advocating neutrality or passivity but rather outlining a national policy that balanced democratic idealism with a pragmatic understanding of the young republic's capabilities and limitations America's rise from a confederation of revolutionary colonies to a world power is often treated as inevitable but Charles N Edel's provocative biography of Adams ar.

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K Its not neccesarily a breezy read its still scholarly and not neccesarily for the layperson But Edel s thesis is that John uincy Adams had a strategy for how to make the United States into a great polity and that strategy eventually succeeded A good biography that understands Adams greatness in his moment I found his personal lifeyoung adulthood to be super interesting But I inda lost focus towards the second half of the book This elegant book depicts the complete life of our sixth president From upbringing to diplomat to politician Adams had an extraordinary life that has made a lasting impression on US foreign policy and American politics Edel navigates the biography with thoughtful and thorough research balanced with a literary approach Understanding Adams as a melancholy astute stubborn man allows us to see him not just as a figure head or historical figure but as a real and sympathetic human Edel looks at an expert statesman and gives him humanity and depth by exploring him through the lens of his family his historical and political context and the legacy he both hoped to achieve and what he did in actuality A brilliant biography and a must read for any burgeoning politicians or diplomats not to mention anyone who seeks to understand the history of not only this man but he nation as a whole hence the title of Nation Builder I get it A well written book that truly stands alone as a comprehensive biography of John uincy Adams. Ding of how to counter the threats arrayed against them allowed him to craft a multitiered policy to insulate the nation from European uarrels expand US territory harness natural resources develop domestic infrastructure education and commerce and transform the United States into a model of progress and liberty respected throughout the worldWhile Adams did not live to see all of his strategy fulfilled his vision shaped the nation's agenda for decades afterward and continues to resonate as America pursues its place in the twenty first century wor.

Oherence to the thinking and actions of various historical leaders and polities I m looking at you LuttwakEspecially awkward are the parallels the author attempts to draw between Adams s grand strategy for his own personal development and career and the grand strategy he envisions for the countryNone of which is to say that Adams lacked a clear idea of America s interests and priorities or a guiding vision for both international action and internal development It s just that it doesn t offer us any advantages to speak of all this in terms of grand strategy an ambiguous term that muddles meaningful distinctions between concepts policy strategy plans aspirations and preferences and thereby allows Edel to suggest that Adams was a brilliant grand strategist who was totally incapable of implementing the vast majority of what he envisioned This seems to me a contradiction in termsThis isn t a terrible book not by any means But it s pretty thin stuff and it s hard for me to imagine that in the glut of recent writing about JA a better one hasn t been written What should be the organizing principle of US foreign policy today Should it be President Obama s don t do stupid shit a return to President Bush s doctrine of preemption or something else I don t now the answer but I welcome Professor Edel s contribution to today s debate through his study of JA s life and the organizing principles that underpinned his grand strateg This is a good boo. Gues that he served as the central architect of a grand strategy that shaped America's rise Adams's particular combination of ideas and policies made him a critical link between the founding generation and the Civil War era nation of LincolnExamining Adams's service as senator diplomat secretary of state president and congressman Edel's study of this extraordinary figure reveals a brilliant but stubborn man who was both visionary prophet and hard nosed politician Adams's ambitions on behalf of America's interests combined with a shrewd understan.

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