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Publisher's Summary

A compelling new biography of America's most powerful speaker of the House, who held the divided nation together for three decades and who was Lincoln's guiding light.

In a little-known chapter of early American history, a fearless Kentucky lawyer rids Congress of corruption and violence in an era when congressmen debated with bullets as well as ballots. Harlow Giles Unger reveals how Henry Clay, the youngest congressman ever elected speaker of the House, rewrote congressional rules and established the speaker as the most powerful elected official after the president.

During five decades of public service - as congressman, senator, secretary of state, and four-time presidential candidate - Clay produced historic compromises that postponed civil war for 50 years. Lincoln called Clay "the man for whom I fought all my life".

An action-packed narrative history, Henry Clay is the story of one of the most courageous congressmen in American history.

©2015 Harlow Giles Unger (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Henry Clay

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Henry Clay - Better to Right than President

Book: This is interesting review of person who was integral to the development of the US between the American Revolution and the American Civil War. He was very much a person of the times with the usual vices and prejudices as well as force of mind, principles, intellectual, and courage. The reading provides context to the period and re-enforces the tragic flaw of the US since its founding: the division in the union finding its pinnacle in the institution of slavery.
Performance: Very good. No issues.

6 people found this helpful

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Interesting and worth a listen

It always amazes me that people all willing to give all their energy and passion champion their vision of what they believe America should be. My only complaint was the feeling that the author seemed to think that the fact that Clay owned slaves they were better off with him then on their own. I think it is these sentiments that still persist today that keeps our nation from once and for all meeting this abhorrent system head on. We must call it the evil that it is. Anyway that is the author’s prerogative but it made me uncomfortable.

4 people found this helpful

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“Loyal” slaves?

The author refers to clays “loyal“ slaves who labored heavily in Ashland, yet showed low intelligence and poor initiative and seemed unable to function when Clay wasn’t around to give orders. The Author notes that clay would sometimes sell or trade away slaves who weren’t intelligent enough Dash no doubt these slaves two were “loyal” and cheerfully excepted being sold to another farm.

The author also refers to clays alcohol consumption, gambling and promiscuity, along with the wife who seemed content to spend a great deal of time separate from him.

I found the book interesting given that I didn’t know much about clay, but about as deep and substantive as a middle school book report. The shame of it is that Clay actually appears to have wrestled with slavery personally as well as a national policy. But this author does not give us any of this, and prefers instead a white wash.

2 people found this helpful

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Book is full of factual errors...

and a lot of other BS about Clay being ‘anti slavery’ and the loyalty of his slaves. Don’t waste your time. There are several good bios of Clay available; this isn’t one of them.

1 person found this helpful

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Hagiographic

At least a dozen times the author refer to clay being abandoned as a store clerk. One he metioned that his step father placed in a possition as a clerk with a lawyer who trained him law for four years before turning him over to snoth er attourny who could provide him with more advanced training which enabled him to follow his familly to Kentuky and open a prosperous law practice.

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Excellent

This is a perfect book for beginner and expert alike. Enough information to know who and most important WHAT Henry Clay was. The period reminded me of today with extremes ruling each party with those in the center hoping to keep the country united. We could use Henry Clay today.

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Lively and accessible bio

The editorial tone is a bit too uncritical, but there is so much to like about Clay in spite of his faults that I enjoyed it very much anyway. There are some errors of fact (e.g. stating that Congress adopted the Compromise of 1850 as Clay wished, directly after his speech, rather than after it was separated into different bills by Douglas et al.) as well as errors of terminology (e.g. any kind of anti-slavery opinion is called "abolitionist", while the abolitionists are called "ultra-abolitionists").

The quality of the reading is superb. Direct quotes are done as a monotone mumble, but this is my only quibble. Even when the reader mispronounces words, he does so with confidence and panache. All in all, a very enjoyable listen.

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Clay

Very interesting, we know the name but not how much he did in his lifetime. Very sad family life

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Rare Story of one of the greatest Americans

What I liked most about this was the subject matter itself. Nobody knows who Henry Clay is today, but reading his life story is a reminder of the true nature of America. This self made statesman strived his entire career to save America from itself. If he were to enter Congress today, I am afraid he’d be disappointed, but unsuprised at its current state.

We need Henry Clay again!

Otherwise, this production was well narrated and very interesting.

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Good Information!

Well read! The story was interesting, but sometimes repetitive.

I would recommend. Definitely leads right into Lincoln.