Book of the Month

Proudly_HailedWhat So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life.

Francis Scott Key.  We’ve all heard of this great American historical figure.  However, when’s the last time you’ve heard of anything about him besides being the author of the Star Spangled Banner?  Recently, I had the opportunity to preview the title What So Proudly We Hailed:  Francis Scott Key, A Life, published by Palgrave Macmillan.  This turned out to be really interesting, so I thought it would make for a great Book of the Month!  Let’s look at a few details!

About the Book

Written by Marc Leepson, whom you might know for his previously published titles such as Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General , or even Flag: An American Biography, this book is focused squarely on the author of our national anthem, Francis Scott Key, whom Leepson was “…surprised to see that no one had written a Key biography since the 1930′s.”  It’s available both as an eBook and hardback/paperback, but isn’t bulky and clocks in at a relative slim 200+ pages.

Contents and Chapters

Many history titles can be academic and somewhat “stuffy” in nature, but I found this title readable and interesting, containing a depth of information about Key that probably many of us do not know about. Topics covered include Key’s:

  • Early life and genealogy
  • Education, marriage and daily struggles
  • Composition and background on the Start Spangled Banner
  • Political interests and the issue of slavery

Political maneuvering and intrigue has never really interested me much, but Leepson has made this particular section of Key’s life rather interesting.  From his interaction with President Madison up through his work on behalf of Andrew Jackson, “Old Hickory“, and the slavery issue that  was bedeviling American in the  years following the War of 1812.


This preview title was a paperback and contained both historical paintings and photographs supported by extensive captions and other background information.  The introduction and table of contents are quite extensive, and the back of the book also contains an epilogue, an appendix of a selected genealogy of Francis Scott Key’s family, acknowledgements, and a great notes section, which I used to refer back to specific facts mentioned in the individual chapters.

My Thoughts

My thoughts?  While my usual focus on American history titles is more of a 19th and 20th century take, I found this book to be a good introduction to this earlier period of American history.  If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about this, then maybe this title can get you looking back.  If you want to learn more about the book and author, I’ve included some additional information below. If you have a chance, check it out!

Book Information:

Macmillian Catalog Entry
Price: $13-$26
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-1-137-27828-9

Google Books Entry

OCLC WorldCat Entry

Kirkus Reviews

Thanks again for stopping by the blog and I hope that you’ve enjoyed my review!

Stay Tuned!