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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2001)

by Joseph J. Ellis

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6,170691,330 (3.92)126
An analysis of the intertwined careers of the founders of the American republic documents the lives of John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.
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    Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (StarryNightElf)
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    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin (Hedgepeth)
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    It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism by Thomas E. Mann (themulhern)
    themulhern: Compare and contrast the party politics of the late 1700s and early 1800s with the party politics of today. Is it really that much worse today? Josep Ellis says that it is, but his "The Founding Brothers" describes some very cynical party maneuvers and some deep philosophical divides. Maybe those founding brothers did it with a bit more grace, and that's the only difference.… (more)
  4. 20
    Burr by Gore Vidal (themulhern)
    themulhern: This is a fictional account of Aaron Burr's career told mostly via his fictionalized reminiscences. He also appears, now a very old man, with a legal practice in New York. Vidal's take on the founding brothers seemed deeply caustic to me when I read this book many years ago. The same events crop up in both books, since Aaron Burr was an officer in the Revolutionary Army and then a prominent politician through the early 1800s.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
A fascinating series of portraits of several of our Founders, including Washington, Hamilton, a little bit of Aaron Burr, but the bulk of the book really centers around the friendship-rivalry-friendship-arguments-etc. of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Interesting read or listen, since I was listening to the audio book. ( )
  fuzzipueo | Apr 24, 2022 |
Easily the best overview of the founders I've ever read. I feel like I understand their rivalries and conflicting ideas and personalities better than I have. The brief, well-written series of episodes helped Ellis focus his portraits, without leaving the ready feel like the narrative is incomplete. ( )
  poirotketchup | Mar 18, 2021 |
3.5 is the truest score (but, y'know, no decimal ratings on GR). I enjoyed it and I liked how it focused on more obscurely taught moments in early American history (the duel between Hamilton and Burr being the highest profile moment of the bunch) but Ellis tends to trail off with his thought process, and I felt that happened several times during the second half of the book as he tried to fit in every interesting detail possibly related to his thesis. Read it if for nothing else than the description of the letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams, John Adams' better half in terms of political thinking and letter writing, IMHO. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
What a small book to win a grand prize!

Still, with a lot of repetition, it could have been at least a quarter shorter.
(Too many times, readers may check to see when the chapter finally ends.)

Neither "Near nor farsighted," American Revolutionaries never considered that the land they claimed
as "peculiarly designed by Providence" was already occupied by many great and happy human beings.

This set the stage for their subsequent refusal to treat slaves as human beings.

Joseph Ellis strangely leads off his book with a totally depressing "The Duel."

Why he did not wait to gradually lead readers to this horror is never explained...
(He could learn a lot about pacing from Jacob Appel who saves Gregor Samsa for a finale.)
...Nor is why the fervent anti-duelists did not unite to prevent it.

"The Dinner" offers little more than repetitive and tedious intricacies.
"The Silence" is another over-one drawn out account.
"The Farewell" = hmmmmm.
With "The Collaborators, the plot picks up.

While the writing is smoother and the story better handled,
"The Friendship" is hard to read because of John Adams' clear betrayal
of his former baseline principles regarding slavery.

Questionable is Joseph Ellis' assertion that the American Revolutionary Generation
"did not devour its own children." What about the children of their slaves?
Who protected them? ( )
  m.belljackson | Jan 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An analysis of the intertwined careers of the founders of the American republic documents the lives of John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.

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Book divided into section: 1- the duel between Hamilton and Burr, 2- the dinner where the location of the capital is chosen, 3- the overriding conservation about slavery, 4- Washington's long farewell in all its manifestations, 5- the celebration of establishing an independent entity, 6 - friendship of Adams and Jefferson through rough patches and till the end
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Average: (3.92)
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1 6
1.5 4
2 18
2.5 10
3 209
3.5 50
4 384
4.5 37
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