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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary…
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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2001)

by Joseph J. Ellis

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Excellent book! Very easy to read and very interesting. Gives the reader a lot of information and an inside look to the troubles of our Founding Fathers. Ellis provides the stories for each of our Founding Fathers and provides an interesting story of each them. ( )
  ALGuerra | Feb 2, 2014 |
Extremely satisfying description of key revolutionary players, how close a thing the actual formation of this country was, and the ongoing problems that we face as a result. Ellis is so fair that I could not discern his biases: he seems to dislike both Hamilton and Jefferson equally. ( )
  annbury | Feb 1, 2014 |
Very interesting and easy to read. Scholars of American history will find the way Ellis explains the debates between the major founding fathers very interesting and more casual readers of history will find the overview he gives of the key players in the American revolution and creation of the USA very interesting and entertaining. ( )
  TimmyP | Nov 15, 2013 |
Since I originally thought this book would be more about the American Revolution, I was initially somewhat disappointed to find myself reading more about the post-Constitutional Convention years of early American history. However, Joseph Ellis nevertheless does an excellent job of bringing out the drama of those years and highlighting the different personalities involved. This book is a great introduction to the early American republic, as Ellis profiles the various characters familiar to most Americans - Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton - and the issues they faced as well as the issues they refused to face. Ellis displays how the Founding Fathers refused to discuss the issue of slavery for fear of dividing the country so recently created and so forced following generations to wrestle with what they could not. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Sep 14, 2013 |
I'm really glad I read this book (thank you Jera for sending it my way!). It wasn't too thick, which is why I am usually scared of historical books or biographies. Too much non-fiction is hard on my brain. But this one really got me thinking about our founding fathers and their contributions to the life we live today.

Taking sort of a back-door approach, Ellis looks at some less-written-about episodes or aspects in the lives of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, and Burr (unlikely friendships, Washington's farewell address, the duel between Hamilton & Burr) and uses them to paint a picture of what things must have really been like for these amazing men. He is a beautiful narrator, and never once did I feel bored with it. My only frustration was that there were several times when I was disenchanted with these great men, and just as I thought Ellis was going to knock them off my personal pedestals, he came full circle and restored my faith in their inspiration. Well, maybe not Aaron Burr so much . . .

So yes, I would highly recommend it as a springboard to heftier historical or political reading. It has inspired me to attack John Adams by McCullough. Do you think I can handle it? ( )
  jessibelle34 | Jul 12, 2013 |
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No event in American history which was so improbable at the time has seemed so inevitable in retrospect as the American Revolution.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705244, Paperback)

In retrospect, it seems as if the American Revolution was inevitable. But was it? In Founding Brothers, Joseph J. Ellis reveals that many of those truths we hold to be self-evident were actually fiercely contested in the early days of the republic.

Ellis focuses on six crucial moments in the life of the new nation, including a secret dinner at which the seat of the nation's capital was determined--in exchange for support of Hamilton's financial plan; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address; and the Hamilton and Burr duel. Most interesting, perhaps, is the debate (still dividing scholars today) over the meaning of the Revolution. In a fascinating chapter on the renewed friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson at the end of their lives, Ellis points out the fundamental differences between the Republicans, who saw the Revolution as a liberating act and hold the Declaration of Independence most sacred, and the Federalists, who saw the revolution as a step in the building of American nationhood and hold the Constitution most dear. Throughout the text, Ellis explains the personal, face-to-face nature of early American politics--and notes that the members of the revolutionary generation were conscious of the fact that they were establishing precedents on which future generations would rely.

In Founding Brothers, Ellis (whose American Sphinx won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1997) has written an elegant and engaging narrative, sure to become a classic. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:25 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

An illuminating study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic--John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. During the 1790s, which Ellis calls the most decisive decade in our nation's history, the greatest statesmen of their generation--and perhaps any--came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the coming centuries. Ellis focuses on six discrete moments that exemplify the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation: Burr and Hamilton's deadly duel, and what may have really happened; Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison's secret dinner, during which the seat of the permanent capital was determined in exchange for passage of Hamilton's financial plan; Franklin's petition to end the "peculiar institution" of slavery--his last public act--and Madison's efforts to quash it; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address, announcing his retirement from public office and offering his country some final advice; Adams's difficult term as Washington's successor and his alleged scheme to pass the presidency on to his son; and finally, Adams and Jefferson's renewed correspondence at the end of their lives, in which they compared their different views of the Revolution and its legacy. In a lively and engaging narrative, Ellis recounts the sometimes collaborative, sometimes archly antagonistic interactions between these men, and shows us the private characters behind the public personas: Adams, the ever-combative iconoclast, whose closest political collaborator was his wife, Abigail; Burr, crafty, smooth, and one of the most despised public figures of his time; Hamilton, whose audacious manner and deep economic savvy masked his humble origins; Jefferson, renowned for his eloquence, but so reclusive and taciturn that he rarely spoke more than a few sentences in public; Madison, small, sickly, and paralyzingly shy, yet one of the most effective debaters of his generation; and the stiffly formal Washington, the ultimate realist, larger-than-life, and America's only truly indispensable figure. Ellis argues that the checks and balances that permitted the infant American republic to endure were not primarily legal, constitutional, or institutional, but intensely personal, rooted in the dynamic interaction of leaders with quite different visions and values. Revisiting the old-fashioned idea that character matters, Founding Brothers informs our understanding of American politics--then and now--and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.… (more)

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