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SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

Just another GR refugee.  Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.

Currently reading

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
Paul Watson
Progress: 6 %
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Ed Yong
Progress: 40 %
Wizard's First Rule
Terry Goodkind
Progress: 49 %
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
Tracy Borman
Progress: 14 %
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Helen Czerski
Progress: 20 %
The Hanover Square Affair
Ashley Gardner
Progress: 10 %
Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
Beth Archer Brombert, Massimo Montanari
Progress: 10 %
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth
Holger Hoock
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
Progress: 9 %
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
John Guy
Progress: 20/512 pages

America 1844, by John Bicknell

America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation - John Bicknell

My ARC courtesy of Chicago Review Press/Net Galley - much thanks!


This survey of what America was like, and what Americans were up to, in 1844 (an election year, and an important one) is broadly chronological, smoothly written, and sometimes very amusing.


President Tyler ("His Accidency") is trying to get re-elected, despite being quite aware both parties (Whigs and Democrats) hate him, offering his possible election rivals seats on the Supreme Court.  John Quincy Adams, no longer president, has retired to the U.S. House of Representatives, and is fighting the "gag rule" preventing the discussion of slavery by that body.  Andrew Jackson is also out of the White House but not retired from politics - his opinion will count for much in the election.  The Millerites think the world is coming to an end, and predict the Second Coming of Christ for both spring and fall.  Joseph Smith first runs for president, and is then assassinated.  Americans, professional explorers and otherwise, are heading west to Oregon and California, neither of which are part of the United States.


It's a very good coverage of an important year in U.S. history (1844 would elect James K. Polk, determine war with Mexico in the near future, and the expansion of both the U.S. and of slavery). It would probably be very interesting to read this back-to-back with Bernard DeVoto's excellent 1846: The Year of Decision, which takes a similar format.