Novelist-social historian Auchincloss's skillful editing makes available significant excerpts of the diaries kept by two excellent writers during momentous times in America. Philip Hone (1780-1851) and George Templeton Strong (1820-1875) were prominent New Yorkers, active in the affairs of the city they loved. In these journals, one finds a living history of 50 years before and after the Civil War. The diaries contain sharp observations on art exhibits, musical events, society, impressions of such luminaries as Jenny Lind and Charles Dickens, contrasting with notes on the ills affecting the metropolis and the country. There are descriptions of riots, diseases, crimes and political opportunism, the latter viewed as the catalyst to war. Illustrations by artists of the times increase the rewards of this remarkable book. (Nov.)
This book juxtaposes over 200 prints with excerpts from the diaries of two members of the city's 19th-century elite: Philip Hone, a merchant who briefly served as mayor, and George Templeton Strong, a lawyer and civic leader. The excerpts nicely reveal the upper class's deep-seated fears of the urban poor and their shifting attitudes toward the Civil War. Readers will enjoy the gossip: the aloof table manners of actress Fanney Kemble; Mrs. De Witt Clinton's studied affront to President Van Buren; the cheap price of painter Thomas Cole's masterpieces; and Strong's portrayal of the ungrammatical Lincoln as ``among the ugliest white men I have seen'' whose laugh was the laugh ``of a yahoo.'' Scholars will prefer the complete diaries of these patricians, edited by Allan Nevins (Hone's was published in 1927, Strong's, in four volumes, in 1952). This book will appeal chiefly to genealogists and local history buffs.--Mark C. Carnes, Barnard Coll., Columbia Univ.
Novelist Auchincloss presents selections from the diaries of Philip Hone and George Templeton Strong, adding biographical details and pairing entries with relevant Currier and Ives illustrations. Elegantly produced for--as the jacket copy asserts--"the New York buff". Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)