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NYT gives Robert Remini grand obitHistorians in the News
Robert V. Remini, an admired historian best known for his study of Andrew Jackson, including an exhaustive three-volume biography that traced how the seventh president harnessed his populist appeal to wield unusual executive power, died on March 28 in Evanston, Ill. He was 91.
The cause was complications of a recent stroke, his daughter Joan Costello said.
“No historian knows more about Andrew Jackson than Robert V. Remini,” John William Ward, also a Jackson biographer, wrote in a review in The New York Times in 1981….
His magnum opus, “The Life of Andrew Jackson,” had been conceived as a single volume. But Mr. Remini soon concluded that he would need two — one to cover Jackson’s early life and military career and another his presidency, from 1829 to 1837. Hugh Van Dusen, his editor, insisted one book would be enough.
“He said, ‘No way, I can’t sell two volumes,’ ” Mr. Remini recalled in a 2006 interview with Steve Scully of C-Span.
Mr. Remini kept pressing. When Mr. Van Dusen came to see the Lyric Opera of Chicago with him — they both loved opera — Mr. Remini first took him to a fine French restaurant. The historian restated his case. The editor held his ground. Mozart eventually mediated.
“We were sitting there in the middle of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and he turned to me and he said, ‘You can have two volumes,’ and that was the beginning of it,” Mr. Remini recalled. “Then, when the presidential years grew to be more than another volume, I needed a third volume. I took him to see ‘Tristan und Isolde’ — and it worked!”
The three volumes, totaling 1,600 meticulously researched pages, were published in 1977, 1981 and 1984. The final volume won a National Book Award....
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