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Publisher's Summary

If Henry James or Edith Wharton had written a novel describing the accomplished and glamorous life and times of John Hay, it would have been thought implausible - a novelist’s fancy. Nevertheless, John Taliaferro’s brilliant biography captures the extraordinary life of Hay, one of the most amazing figures in American history, and restores him to his rightful place.
John Hay was both witness and author of many of the most significant chapters in American history - from the birth of the Republican Party, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, to the prelude to the First World War. Much of what we know about Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt comes to us through the observations Hay made while private secretary to one and secretary of state to the other. With All the Great Prizes, the first authoritative biography of Hay in 80 years, Taliaferro has turned the lens around, rendering a rich and fascinating portrait of this brilliant American and his many worlds.
Hay’s friends are a who’s who of the era: Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Henry Adams, Henry James, and virtually every president, sovereign, author, artist, power broker, and robber baron of the Gilded Age. As an ambassador and statesman, he guided many of the country’s major diplomatic initiatives at the turn of the 20th century: the Open Door with China, the creation of the Panama Canal, the establishment of America as a world leader.
Hay’s peers esteemed him as “a perfectly cut stone” and “the greatest prime minister this republic has ever known”. But for all his poise and polish, he had his secrets. His marriage to one of the wealthiest women in the country did not prevent him from pursuing the Madame X of Washington society, whose other secret suitor was Hay’s best friend, Henry Adams.
With this superb work, Taliaferro brings us an epic tale.
©2013 John Taliaferro (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By IRP on 03-09-14

Great Historical Biography- Well Read

As a student of history I found this biography to be an excellent book about a man whose career spanned two different period in US History- the period leading up to and including the Civil War and the Guilded Age that covered the development of America up to the Progressive Era prior to World War One. The author does an excellent job of covering the details of not just John Hay's life but the historical events (including the assasination of three presidents, the Spanish American War, The Boxer Rebellion, the Panama Canal land acquisition, and the Russo Japanese War) that were an integral part in US development into an imperial power. Great nuggets were also included (such as the fact that Hay's granddaughter was actually the first owner of the NY Mets baseball franchise).The narration was also excellent and I learned a great deal about a period of history of which I thought I had a good knowledge. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of America from the American Civil War through 1905.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Richard on 10-14-14

History on a Very Personal Level

This book is not only a very good review of some of the most turbulent eras in United States history, it is told from the view of someone both intelligent and honorable. This is not just the personal view of his biographer, but a view found in the written words of those he worked for and with. From the Civil War to the Spanish American War and beyond this man worked for the best interest of the United States as he saw it. He was not perfect, he held the views of his education and his friends including Henry Adams, (yes he of the acerbic Adams clan). This man lost a personal friend at the Battle of Gettysburg, and still was horrified decades later at the thousands dead in a battle which occurred outside of the borders of the United States. Following Hays life gives a personal view of some of the most formative times in American history.

This book actually gave me an understanding of some actions the American government took in the early nineteen hundreds that are still have reverberations all these decades later. It begins slowly like most biographies, but give it time, it is well worth it.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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