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The Stevensons: A Biography of an American Family by Jean Harvey Baker (1997-06-17)

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    Jean Harvey Baker(Author)

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  • Jean Harvey Baker(Author)
  • W. W. Norton & Company (1727)
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Review Text

  • By Sharon Adams on May 19, 2000

    "The Stevensons" is a sweeping story of the American experience, a story of a great American family.Jean Baker begins the story of the Stevenson saga with Adlai Stevenson II's 1948 campaign for governor in Illinois. As the popular governor is about to run for the presidency in 1952, the author takes readers back to governor's ancestors, following the family's migration to America - moving from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas, on to Kentucky and eventually to Bloomington, Illinois -- a sweeping and inspiring journey.While the book's focus is Adlai Stevenson II, two time Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, the family biography thoroughly recounts the life and political career of his famous grandfather, Adlai Stevenson I (1835-1914), a Democratic Party icon in 19th century Illinois politics.Of special interest to those who remember Adlai Stevenson II's two campaigns for the presidency and his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the book presents the complexities of the personality of probably the best known liberal of the post-World War II era.The only missing link in the story is the period between 1956 and 1960.Among all the tragic figures in this saga, Adlai Stevenson II, although flawed, shines with a luster that will be remembered as a liberal statesman head and shoulders above his contemporaries.The author lists 35 interviews and has included 74 pages of bibliographic

  • By Robert Morris on January 31, 2001

    It is important to keep in mind that this is not a biography of Adlai, the most famous of Stevensons. Baker examines his family and his place within that family's well as his place within the American political system. I grew up in Chicago in a family of Democrats who adored FDR and, later, Adlai Stevenson. (They really didn't know quite what to make of Truman nor, for that matter, did Truman know quite what to make of Stevenson.) I begn to follow Stevenson's career when he was governor of Illinois, delighted by his dry wit. Unlike Lincoln's, his career did not lead from Springfield to the White House. His manner was that of a patrician and his demeanor that of an intellectual. (Eisenhower once called him an "egghead.") On occasion, he seemed to lack an appetite for politics or at least for campaigning for public office. Thanks to Baker, I now have a much better understanding of his Scottish ancestry, of his youth, and of the formative years preceding his governship. Contrary to what the elders in my family firmly believed, Stevenson was no saint. For me, that makes him all-the-more interesting. Perhaps his finest moment in public life occurred when, as our ambassador to the U.N., he challenged the ambassador from the U.S.S.R. to admit that it had deployed missiles in Cuba. That took courage and eloquence which Stevenson possessed in abundance. So many fine books have been written about the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, and the Roosevelts. Another family, the Stevensons, has now received the attention it deserves.

  • By A customer on February 21, 1998

    Jean Baker's chronicle of the Stevenson family contains Baker's usual hallmarks-- thought-provoking sagacity, a remarkable ability to objectively look at all issues from all angles, and research that in its scope and accuracy is second to none. The Stevensons should be required reading for all Americans who care about postwar American politics and culture. An excellent piece of work by one of America's outstanding biographers.

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