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BOOK REVIEWS177 it is not explicitly developed in my opinion. And though he sees Ellet's continuous strife with fellow engineers and employers as a manifestation of his subject's stern individualism, one wonders, despite his fair treatment of the principals involved, whether Ellet's individualism was not really a species of egomania. Some readers may wish that Lewis had treated Eilet within the general framework of individualism and conformity in American life. Perhaps, too, he could have given his subject additional dimension by looking at him as a social character type, for example, as Riesman's "inner-directed" man. But these are not substantive criticisms. As the study stands it is an uncluttered account of an engineer who contributed significantly to technological change in America. It also invests the realm of technology, notwithstanding Ellet's limitations as a warm human personality, with a sense of personality. Historians of American technology and historians of nineteenth century America will find this biography interesting and valuable despite some stylistic lapses. Readers with a minimal knowledge of the technical and social role of nineteenth century civil engineers can more profitably use it if they first read Daniel H. Calhoun, The American Civil Engineer, a study that Lewis employs effectively in describing the tasks and role of the civil engineer. The quality of this biography is enhanced by the uncomplicated maps that clearly relate to the narrative. Wright State University Carl M. Becker August Belmont: A Political Biography. By Irving Katz. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968. Pp. ix, 296. $10.00.) A German Jew who arrived in New York in 1837 as the agent of the Rothschilds, August Belmont became a Democrat upon his naturalization in 1844 and remained one, a rich and prominent one, until his death in 1890. In 1849 he married Caroline Slidell Perry, socially prominent daughter of Commodore Perry and niece of the Louisiana senator, John Slidell, and, with his wife and six children, subsequently attended the Episcopal church for the remainder of his life. Hungry for a diplomatic post after his efforts in behalf of Franklin Pierce, Belmont had to content himself with a mere chargéship at The Hague. There his long-standing interest in Cuba was reflected in die illfamed Ostend Manifesto, prepared by his then-favorite Democrat, James Buchanan, the minister to Britain, and two other Democratic envoys. Despite his long and generous support of Buchanan, after the Pennsylvanian 's election in 1856 Belmont failed to secure the appointment that he most coveted,—minister to Spain. Consequently he switched his support to President Buchanan's arch foe, Stephen A. Douglas. 178CIVIL war history Silent and apparently unconcerned about slavery, Belmont now entered the most important phase of his career from the standpoint of national political history. As a result of his fund raising and organizing efforts for Douglas, the regular Democratic National Committee elected Belmont to the party's national chairmanship in June, 1860. This was a post he was destined to hold through the agonizing years of the Civil War and its aftermath, until 1872 in fact. That these were especially grim years for the Democratic party was certainly a fact beyond Belmont's control. But Professor Katz hardly illuminates the matter when he suggests that Belmont, bitterly and personally assailed by Republicans during and after the war, was motivated by "two strong and conflicting principles: loyalty to the idea of an indivisible union, and loyalty to the party which had caused that union's rupture." That the Democratic party "caused" the national schism is indeed a curious, unexplained notion of Professor Katz. At any rate, the clearest "principle" that does emerge from Belmont's career is his strong aversion to Greenbacks or any other threat to "sound" money. Professor Katz concludes that "there was a certain tragic course to the life of August Belmont. A success in the worlds of international finance, society, and culture, he chose to venture deeply into a different world—politics—where he was thwarted at almost every turn." Unfortunately , this political biography is largely lifeless, save for lavish illustrations , and neither reveals much insight into the human being's "tragic course" nor sheds much helpful light on the...


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pp. 177-178
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