Review of All the Great Prizes by John Taliaferro

Hidden in history: The awesome NH man we know little about



He strode the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a political and cultural giant — he served as Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary and as secretary of state to William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He was instrumental in many of their foreign policy successes, including the notable “Open Door Policy” with China. He helped build the fledgling Republican Party. He was at the bedside of both Lincoln and McKinley when they died of an assassin’s bullet. Lincoln was said to “cherish him like a son”; he was like a “second father” to Roosevelt.

And that’s just for starters. It takes author John Taliaferro more than 500 pages to outline all of John Hay’s accomplishments in “All the Great Prizes” [Simon & Schuster, $35].

So why do we know so little about him? That’s especially so for Granite Staters since he spent much of his time at his estate overlooking Lake Sunapee in Newbury. (You can visit the estate, called “The Fells” — the house and gardens are open for tours until October.)

The lack of Hay biographies (none, really, since 1933) was the impetus for Taliaferro to write his. And it is a finally-assembled mother lode of information about Hay and his 50 years in public life. (And his private life too — Taliaferro uncovered some sorta shocking details.)

It’s nicely written for the casual reader; no dense data here. Read, enjoy, learn.  

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. 2016 It List
    Our 2016 It List is the who’s who of New Hampshire. In a time of fact-checking the...
  2. Local artisanal food and drink gift ideas
    The foodie on your shopping list will love any of these 15+ local items
  3. Katrina Simpson is breaking military ground
    Meet the first woman in the National Guard to graduate from the US Army infantry officer basic...
  4. Sweeten the season with the Cookie and Candy Tour
    Visitors can tour 11 Mount Washington Valley inns decked out in their holiday finery, offering...
  5. Pilobolus: The Pioneers
    New Hampshire-born troupe Pilobolus celebrates their 45th anniversary this year. Here, take a...
  6. Dealing with Panic Attacks
    Symptoms can feel like a heart attack.
  7. Holiday decorating tips from the experts
    Three local design experts don their "merrymaker" hats to bring you their very best tips for...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags