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First Ladies of the Republic Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role by Jeanne E. Abrams

The publisher kindly let me see a copy of this book, hoping for an honest review. What do you think of when you hear the phrase American political history? Who are the people you think of? I’m guessing that you think of; the founding fathers, followed by a succession of white, male, presidents. This book seeks to rectify this by looking at the women who shaped Washington, America, and the world. It looks at the wives of the first presidents; Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison.

It outlines; their lives, how they met their husbands, their role within their partners’ journey to power, their feelings towards their role of first lady, their relationships with each other and the ways that they shaped Washington.

The works only flaw lies in its structure. At times, it gets repetitive. Each first lady gets her own section, outlining her biography. However, since many presidents served in the administration of their predecessor, many of their stories overlap and repeat. With the end of one narrative being repeated in the middle of the next narrative. For example, you are told the story of Martha Washington, which was a really interesting read, but then part of the narrative was retold in the story of Abagail Adams when John Adams became Washington’s vice president. This narrative flaw had a negative impact on the readability of the work. But, that said, I am really glad that I read this book.

This book is a useful addition to a cannon of historical literature whose main aim is to celebrate Womens’ contribution to the world. In addition, it is a valuable contribution to the Political history of the USA. I recommend it to history geeks like myself.