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A New Nation Spearheading Liberty's Cause - an Editorial Review of "The Middle Generation"

Book Blurb:

The classical era of American history began with the Revolution and ended with emancipation.

Between these bookends lies the absorbing yet overshadowed epic of a new nation spearheading liberty's cause in a world skeptical of freedom arriving at all, much less in slaver's garb. M. B. Zucker takes readers back to that adolescent country in the care of an enigmatic guide, John Quincy Adams, heir to one president by blood and another, Washington, by ideology. Adams is the missing link between the founders and Abraham Lincoln, and is nigh unanimously regarded as America's foremost Secretary of State. Through Adams' eyes, readers will experience one of history's greatest and most forgotten crises: his showdown with Europe over South American independence, the conflict which prefigured the Monroe Doctrine.

With his signature dialogue and his close study of Adams' 51-volume diary, M. B. Zucker's The Middle Generation is a political thriller and character piece that surpasses his achievement in The Eisenhower Chronicles and ascends to the cinematic heights of the historical epics of David Lean and Steven Spielberg. It is an unforgettable portrait and a leap forward for one of our rising historical fiction novelists.

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Author Bio:

M. B. Zucker has been interested in storytelling for as long as he can remember. He devoted himself to historical fiction at fifteen and earned his B.A. at Occidental College and his J.D. at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He lives in Virginia with his family. He is the author of four novels. Among his honors is the Best Fictional Biography Award at the 2023 BookFest.

His first adult novel was "The Eisenhower Chronicles," This biographical novel is told through a series of stories that are both designed to stand alone but, together, bring Ike back to life and present his place in history as the most important individual in defending the world from fascism, communism, and nuclear weapons.

"The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine," released in November 2023, the Doctrine's 200th anniversary. It is a political thriller and character study. Zucker closely studied Adams' 51-volume diary while writing it.

Editorial Review:

The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine by M. B. Zucker looks at early America and the Era of Good Feelings through the eyes of the prominent John Quincy Adams. In this political thriller, readers are taken into the politics of the day and given a first-hand view of the political rivalries and game of chess that took place during this time period. For an era that is often passed over by mainstream historical fiction, it is presented in a way by Zucker that readers will be rapt with attention and unable to put The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine down.

The Federalist Party—which was nothing but an extension of Alexander Hamilton and his patrons—is dying. It is a mere New England regional party and I don’t expect it to survive another five to ten years. That gives us an opportunity unknown since early in President Washington’s tenure. I want America to be a republic free of partisanship. No divisions between North and South, between New England merchants and cotton plantation owners. This is one country. A country of free individuals. None of our citizens are oppressed or are deprived of the property they earn.”

Historical figures are often the focus of historical fiction novels but authors tend to focus on more mainstream historical figures that are well-known to most people. Zucker breaks that mold and takes on a historical figure that, while important and impactful, is often overlooked by mainstream history, John Quincy Adams. Adams is an endearing and intensely interesting historical personality and Zucker grasps that challenge head-on by writing from Adam’s point of view. It offers a unique, though fictional, view of how John Quincy Adams may have acted and thought giving a brand new insight to his historical era. He captures the essence of Adams in a unique and enthralling way that historical fiction readers will love.

The ladies raised the fire and prepared cornbread and boiled eggs. Mrs. Adams knew not how to operate a farm when we wed but Mother mentored her, albeit not joyfully. We gathered in the sitting room. Tom’s rascals were close to the fire and the adults formed a disjointed ring around them.”

Another element of this book that will certainly capture the attention of historical fiction fans is that the era featured in The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine is often overlooked by most mainstream historical fiction novels and history-focused media. It is refreshing to see a period that often flies under the radar to receive more appropriate representation in historical fiction drama. The author also does a fantastic job portraying this time and the characters within the novel. It can often be a complicated time period full of political turmoil at times that is often difficult for some people to fully grasp and the author does a great job providing a nice summary and look into this time. It is clear that the author enjoys this time period and has done extensive research to portray the characters and setting in as accurate a manner as possible. Zucker has created what most audiences feel is a possible look into the actions or possible words of John Quincy Adams. Other notable characters include Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and more. His character development really brings these historical figures alive.

Only a third of Americans lived in Southern states yet they held nearly half of all House seats because of a wicked clause in the Constitution which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person when determining each state’s number of representatives. Slaves couldn’t vote and they shouldn’t have counted until they were free and enfranchised. It was cruel to count them so their masters could oppose their interests and unfair to Northerners held hostage by the over-represented South.”

The writing is also fantastic. Zucker includes plenty of wit and details which engages the reader. This era of history can often be a lot to take in and Zucker uses expert writing skills to make it much more digestible and easy to read. His writing style also creates a fantastic pacing that keeps the book moving along.

Restore our friendship with Russia. Use honey and not vinegar. Draw Russia away from Metternich and remove the Prince’s muscle. Alexander feared that republicanism threatened monarchy but we could make friendship worth his while with generous trade terms and by siding with him against Ottoman Turkey, Russia’s historic enemy. The risk was upsetting Britain.”

The likely intended audience for The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine are those who enjoy historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in the early American republic. Those with an interest in presidential history and politics will also enjoy The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine. This era of history might prove to be difficult for some but for those with an interest, this book proves to be a great comprehensive and more easily digestible look into the presidency of John Quincy Adams and the time period surrounding his presidency, known as the Era of Good Feelings.

Losing my soul was worse than death and to spend my life a failure, looking Father in the eye and seeing his disappointment, watching my country return to where it started at my birth, was an unacceptable existence. Do it. Do it now. It would be fast. No more pain. Peace, like swimming in the wintry Potomac. Troubles gone. Troubles outweighed joys. Joys? Don’t make me laugh.”

Outstanding writing, imaginative yet realistic details, and excellent historical research earns The Middle Generation: A Novel of John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine a five out of five rating. It is well done and historical fiction fans will find this book to be a favorite and appreciate its unique look at an often overlooked period of history.


“The Middle Generation” by M.B. Zucker receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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