Ackerman, Kenneth D. (Kenneth David Ackerman)
Ackerman, Kenneth D. (Kenneth David Ackerman)
Born in Albany, NY; married; wife's name Karen. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1973; Georgetown University, J.D., 1976. Hobbies and other interests: Scuba diving.
Home—Falls Church, VA. Office—Olsson, Frank and Weeda PC, 1400 16th St. NW, Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20036. Agent—Gene Taft PR, 2300 Hildarose Dr., Silver Spring, MD 20902. E-mail—[email protected]
U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Washington, DC, minority staff counsel, 1975-81; Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Washington, DC, 1981-88; U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Washington, DC, special counsel, 1988-93; Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Washington, DC, manager, 1993-2001; Risk Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, administrator, 1993-2001; Olsson, Frank and Weeda PC, Washington, DC, partner, 2001—. Teaches seminars for TheCapitol.Net; board member, Washington Independent Writers (WIW) and WIW's Freedom to Write Fund.
The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1988.
Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield, Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.
Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York, Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2005.
Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of a number of articles and publications covering legal, regulatory, and historical topics. Author of blog Coffee with Ken.
Attorney Kenneth D. Ackerman's first book, The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869, explores the role of the two men in the financial panic of 1869. His second historical examination, Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield, offers a glimpse of American history a decade later. He traces the events leading up to and including James A. Garfield's ascent to the presidency, the second-shortest tenure in that office in U.S. history. Garfield was chosen as the Republican Party's candidate after the longest Republican nominating process to date, and he won the closest popular vote for the presidency by only about seven thousand votes. He had been in office for only four months when he was shot by an assassin who wanted to see Garfield's vice president, Chester A. Arthur, in office. Garfield died from blood poisoning about a month and a half later.
A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "in Ackerman's hands, the story of Garfield's presidency and murder comes brilliantly alive." The reviewer also felt that the book is "long on narrative, and short, very short, on analysis" and that it would have been helpful if the author had explored the ways in which the political struggles affected other significant social and economic issues of the time. William D. Pederson noted in Library Journal that Ackerman "effectively captures the drama" of the period, and that "with great narrative skill, [he] tackles the fascinating cast of characters" associated with the events. He also commented on Ackerman's "extensive knowledge of the period and his longtime personal experience with politics" as qualifications for exploring the topic. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews applauded Ackerman's "engaging account" and remarked that the book provides a "welcome glimpse into the little-known time between the Civil War and the Gilded Age."
As in Dark Horse, the Gilded Age, a time in American history marked by major population growth and extravagant displays of wealth by America's upper class during the post-Civil War and post-Reconstruction era, is the backdrop for Ackerman's third book, Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York. The book discusses William M. Tweed, who was the leading figure of Tammany Hall, a powerful New York Democratic organization, where he led an almost ten-year reign of corruption. Harvard Political Review Online critic Peter Ekman felt that in Boss Tweed Ackerman "impresses with his skillful detailing of the mechanics of graft—exactly how Tweed siphoned cash from contractors and tilted the city budget into his bottomless pockets, and how he covered it up for so long." Ekman added that "Ackerman navigates the tortuous pathways of corruption and makes them comprehensible in witty, if not quite beautiful, prose." Library Journal contributor Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr., observed that "Ackerman demonstrates that beyond the graft that he epitomized, ‘the Boss’ also developed his city's infrastructure and social services." "For connoisseurs of corruption, Ackerman shrewdly mixes together the reformist zeal and political opportunism that marked Tweed's career," reported Gilbert Taylor in Booklist.
Ackerman's next book, Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, focuses on the events responsible for J. Edgar Hoover's rise to power—a series of bombings that took place in 1919 and the raids and arrests that followed. On June 2, 1919, a man killed himself in an attempt to bomb the Washington, DC, home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. It was the beginning of a series of bombings across the country that sent America into a state of panic. The perpetrators of these attacks were believed to be part of some sort of anarcho-communist group. Hoover, who at the time was a young attorney at the Department of Justice, made himself indispensable to Palmer as the attorney general set into motion his infamous raids (known as "the Red Scare") in November of 1919.
According to Nicholas von Hoffman in his review of the book for Book Forum, "until now, with Ackerman's book, the part played by the young Hoover has been largely overlooked…. We now know, thanks to this book, that Hoover played not only a leading but an indispensable role in the raids." Critic Carl Rollyson remarked in the New York Sun that "as hard as Mr. Ackerman is on Hoover, he does not demonize him. The biographer's own ‘life experience’ and knowledge of power tell him that men like Hoover result from how their superiors deport themselves. Thus Mr. Ackerman excoriates Woodrow Wilson's ‘loyalists’ for creating the myth that the president ‘had nothing to do with’ supporting the Palmer raids." Huntington News writer David M. Kinchen praised the book, saying that Ackerman "does an outstanding job portraying the Teflon quality of Hoover." J to the Power of 7 Blog critic Matt Janovic also commended the book, noting that "it's unlikely that there will be a better telling of the Palmer Raids—and by his almost central role in them—the early-years and rise of J. Edgar Hoover within the bureaucracy of the Department of Justice." The work "is a well written, insightful and thought-provoking book that through the use of historical example underscores the dangers to our personal and Constitutionally-protected liberties by an over-charged executive and through unelected officials in the name of a ‘threat’ grossly exaggerated for political purposes," observed a reviewer for the Whirled View Blog.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Barron's, June 11, 1990, Robert Sobel, review of The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869, pp. 24-25.
Booklist, February 15, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York, p. 1054; June 1, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, p. 32.
Boston Globe, March 14, 2005, Michael Kenney, review of Boss Tweed.
Business and Society Review, fall, 1989, J. Patrick Lewis, review of The Gold Ring, pp. 78-79.
Campaigns & Elections, July, 2003, review of Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield, p. 18.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February, 2004, P.F. Field, review of Dark Horse, p. 1139; February, 2006, R.M. Hyser, review of Boss Tweed, p. 1069.
Columbia Business Law Review, winter, 1989, Allen Boyer, review of The Gold Ring, pp. 195-203.
Federal Lawyer, July, 2007, Henry S. Cohn, review of Young J. Edgar, p. 42.
History: Review of New Books, spring, 2004, John Mosher, review of Dark Horse.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Dark Horse, p. 723; March 15, 2005, review of Boss Tweed, p. 323.
Library Journal, June 15, 2003, William D. Pederson, review of Dark Horse, p. 86; February 15, 2005, Frederick J. Augustyn, review of Boss Tweed, p. 138; May 1, 2007, Stephen Hupp, review of Young J. Edgar, p. 88.
New York Law Journal, July 22, 2005, Robert F. Julian, review of Boss Tweed.
New York Review of Books, December 1, 2005, Michael Tomasky, review of Boss Tweed, p. 52.
New York Sun, May 16, 2007, Carl Rollyson, review of Young J. Edgar.
New York Times Book Review, March 27, 2005, Pete Hamill, review of Boss Tweed, p. 5.
Policy Review, August 1, 2005, Sam Munson, review of Boss Tweed, p. 82.
Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2003, review of Dark Horse, p. 56; April 2, 2007, review of Young J. Edgar, p. 51.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, review of Boss Tweed, p. 73.
Washington Post Book World, June 24, 2007, Dennis Drabelle, review of Young J. Edgar, p. 14.
Washington Times, August 12, 2007, Joseph C. Goulden, review of Young J. Edgar.
Book Forum,http://www.bookforum.com/ (June 1, 2007), Nicholas von Hoffman, review of Young J. Edgar.
FrontPageMagazine.com,http://frontpagemag.com/ (May 3, 2007), Ron Capshaw, review of Young J. Edgar.
Harvard Political Review Online,http://hprsite.squarespace.com/ (May 28, 2007), Peter Ekman, review of Boss Tweed.
Huntington News Online,http:/www.huntingtonnews.net/ (June 24, 2007), David M. Kinchen, review of Young J. Edgar.
J to the Power of 7 Blog,http://chickasawpicklesmell.blogspot.com/ (July 5,2007), Matt Janovic, review of Young J. Edgar.
Kenneth D. Ackerman Home Page,http://www.kennethackerman.com (December 26, 2007).
Olsson, Frank and Weeda, P.C. Web site,http://www.oflaw.com/ (March 6, 2004).
Richmond Times Dispatch Online,http://www.inrich.com/ (July 29, 2007), Roy Proctor, review of Young J. Edgar.
Talking Dog Blog,http://thetalkingdog.com/ (August 1, 2007), "TD Blog Interview with Kenneth Ackerman."
Tammy Swofford Blog,http://tammyswofford.blogspot.com/ (July 17, 2007), Tom Gordon, review of Young J. Edgar.
Weekly Whig Blog,http://sheldonnovick.blogspot.com/ (November 30, 2007), review of Boss Tweed.
Whirled View Blog,http://whirledview.typepad.com/ (August 15, 2007), review of Young J. Edgar.