Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is Kathryn Allamong Jacob reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Kathryn Allamong Jacob, author of the recently published King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward, Man—About—Washington in the Gilded Age.

Her entry begins:
Several years ago, when I began working on the biography of Sam Ward, whose main years of influence placed him squarely in the Gilded Age, I read Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873) and Henry Adams’ Democracy: An American Novel (1880), which he published anonymously, leading to wild speculation as to the author’s identity. Recently, when the book was finished, I read them again. The Gilded Age is still laugh-out-loud hilarious in places; Democracy still so cynical. Both novels seem so fresh, probably because corrupt politicians, enormous egos, conniving social climbers, and venal lobbyists didn’t disappear when the Gilded Age ended. They all had their real-life, non-fiction counterparts in the late 1800s and...[read on]
Kathryn Allamong Jacob is curator of manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. She is the author of Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C. and Capital Elites: High Society in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War.

Among the praise for King of the Lobby:
"A wonderful book. The author explores a protean figure with much to tell us about the evolving nature of politics and government in the age of the Civil War. The author's great accomplishment here is to make Sam Ward come alive."
--Michael McGerr, Indiana University

"Jacob's trim and surprising biography of Sam Ward... will not change most people's view of what is essentially a hustler's profession. But she brilliantly shows how, in the hands of a master, lobbying can be lifted to the level of art."
--Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal

"Jacob enthralls readers with anecdotes of Ward beguiling a skeptical press and demonstrating persuasiveness to members of Congress... a crisply written study, making excellent use of new sources and providing historical perspective through sprightly stories enlarging our understanding of the phenomenon of the lobbyist. Sure to please both serious researchers and general readers."
--Library Journal

"In the delectable biography, King of the Lobby, Kathryn Allamong Jacob serves up the life and times of this protean character."
--Drew Bratcher, Washingtonian
Read more about King of the Lobby at the official website.

Writers Read: Kathryn Allamong Jacob.

--Marshal Zeringue