Thursday Book Reviews – Adams Vs. Jefferson,

Adams Vs. Jefferson

John E. Ferling

Think the 2012 election is contentious? Try 1800. Much of what we take for granted about our republic today had not even been thought of at the start of John Adams’ term as president. In the early days of the Constitution, America had moved from throwing off the yoke of a foreign king to a new battle: Whether America would be run by an elite few consisting of New England merchants and southern planters or would it truly be a government for, of, and by the people.

If I had to title this book, however, I would not have called it Adams Vs. Jefferson. The battle between the first two political parties, the original Republican (or Democratic-Republican) Party and the Federalists, was really a battle between Jefferson, the idealist, and Alexander Hamilton, the scheming pragmatist. Both men’s flaws were on display in the lead-up to the election of 1800, and Adams seems more caught in the cross-fire. So while you’re tea partying your way to the polls or occupying whatever capitalist temple annoys you, keep in mind that pretty much everything you assume about the Founders, the republic, and democracy itself is most likely wrong.

Suicide Squeeze

Victor Gischler

The master of smart-ass noir returns in this tale of one of his early characters, Conner Samson. Samson began life having everything handed to him. He was a star athlete who was assumed to be destined for a career in the major leagues. That’s the back story. The present is Conner trying to pay off his bookie and wondering if it’s time to look for work again. He finds a job repossessing a boat called the Electric Jenny. When Conner goes after the boat, he finds himself entangled with a Japanese billionaire obsessed with getting his hands on a rare Joe DiMaggio baseball card signed by DiMaggio, Marylin Monroe, and Billy Wilder. It’s a classic collision of the evil and the stupid, and all of them trip over themselves in yet another Gischler comedy of errors.