All the Great Prizes by John Taliaferro
The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt

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John Taliaferro does well with Hay the man, but he is less adept at analyzing how Hay functioned as a cabinet member from 1898 to 1905.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The first full-scale biography of John Hay since 1934: From secretary to Abraham Lincoln to secretary of state for Theodore Roosevelt, Hay was an essential American figure for more than half a century.

John Taliaferro’s brilliant biography captures the extraordinary life of Hay, one of the most amazing figures in American history, and restores him to his rightful place. Private secretary to Lincoln and secretary of state to Theodore Roosevelt, Hay was both witness and author of many of the most significant chapters in American history—from the birth of the Republican Party, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, to the prelude to World War I. As an ambassador and statesman, he guided many of the country’s major diplomatic initiatives at the turn of the twentieth century: the Open Door with China, the creation of the Panama Canal, and the establishment of America as a world leader.

Hay’s friends are a who’s who of the era: Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Henry Adams, Henry James, and virtually every president, sovereign, author, artist, power broker, and robber baron of the Gilded Age. His peers esteemed him as “a perfectly cut stone” and “the greatest prime minister this republic has ever known.” But for all his poise and polish, he had his secrets. His marriage to one of the wealthiest women in the country did not prevent him from pursuing the Madame X of Washington society, whose other secret suitor was Hay’s best friend, Henry Adams.

All the Great Prizes, the first authoritative biography of Hay in eighty years, renders a rich and fascinating portrait of this brilliant American and his many worlds.
 

About John Taliaferro

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John Taliaferro is a graduate of Harvard College, a former senior editor at Newsweek, and the author of four previous books. He lives in Austin, Texas, and Pray, Montana.
 
Published May 14, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 689 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for All the Great Prizes
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Thomas Mallon on May 17 2013

Taliaferro resists the whipped-cream rosettes of Hay’s own prose and does a sturdy job laying out the foreign policy of a new American empire, though his narrative...

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Lewis L Gould on Jun 07 2013

John Taliaferro does well with Hay the man, but he is less adept at analyzing how Hay functioned as a cabinet member from 1898 to 1905.

Read Full Review of All the Great Prizes: The Lif... | See more reviews from WSJ online

The Economist

Excellent
on Jun 01 2013

...Mr Taliaferro is able to draw on their letters to each other—letters packed with inside information and malicious gossip. They must have made this biography a joy to write.

Read Full Review of All the Great Prizes: The Lif... | See more reviews from The Economist

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