Bob Merry is a happy camper, as well he should be. His latest tome, A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent, is movin' on up, currently ranking as high as #191 on the best-seller lists; as high as #22 in history books; and #1 in 19th century history. Not bad for a kid who grew up in a little fishing village in Washington state and not bad for a president that most people don't remember. Therein lies the genius.
Merry takes readers on a four hundred and seventy-seven page journey into the life of the 11th President of The United States, long considered “our most underrated president.” As a third grader briefly living in Charlottesville, Virginia, the author absorbed the rich history that surrounded him and acquired a taste for this period, perhaps ultimately the impetus for the book.
"I portray James Polk, the mastermind and driving force behind this expansionist wave, as a smaller-than-life figure with larger-than-life ambitions. He achieved all his goals, but the efforts of this relentless politician sapped his strength and health, and within four months of his leaving office he died in his sleep at age 53."
If the number of book parties being held in his honor is any indication of his success, Merry is a winner. The latest party was at the home of Audrey Cramer where former CQ colleagues David Rapp, Keith White, Loesje Troglia joined columnist and commentator Mark Shields, MSNBC contributor and on and off again presidential contender Pat Buchanan and what seemed like at least another hundred and fifty.
Merry, who is the author of three other books, has been a journalist and publishing executive for over thirty-five years, including a decade as a Wall Street Journal correspondent and a dozen years as president and editor in chief of Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
"I had two wonderful career segments," said Merry, "covering Washington for one of the country's leading newspapers; and leading a fine news organization with the hallowed mission of lubricating the wheels of American democracy with ongoing flows of highly valuable civic information."
After thought: Run, don't walk to get your copy: http://tinyurl.com/ylgo67y
After thought 2 (jus' sayin'): There are 98 pages in the notes and index, hope the researcher was well compensated.
After thought 3: Photo is not a "self pimp", my camera battery was dead. Credit Loesje for this one.