What books are you reading?

ConversesAmerican Revolution & Founding Fathers History

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What books are you reading?

1cbfiske
feb. 23, 2014, 6:56 am

I just finished The Fort: A Novel of the Revolutionary War by Bernard Cornwell. This was a good novel talking about something I wasn't very familiar with - the Penobscot Expedition, "often described as the worst naval disaster in United States history before Pearl Harbor".

2homeschoolmom
feb. 26, 2014, 8:59 pm

I have that in my TBR pile. I'm reading George Washington's Secret Six. I'm about a 1/4 of the way done and really enjoying it. The information on spies and invisible ink is rather a "new" topic to write about.

3JaneAustenNut
març 8, 2014, 7:23 pm

I just added George Washington's Secret Six to my wish list. Also, there is a new TV series named TURN that is about spying in the American Revolution. I think it will be on ABC and starts sometime in April. Hopefully, this will give others more interest in the American Revolution and its Founding Fathers. Looking forward to the series and reading the Secret Six book.

4RedEyedNerd
Editat: març 10, 2014, 4:33 pm

Just started reading In the minds and hearts of the people; prologue to the American Revolution: 1760-1774 by National Portrait Gallery, 1974.
Besides a collection of concise biographies and portraits of many contemporary figures involved in the proceedings on both sides, the book contains maps, treatises, and an extensive bibliography. I chanced about this volume in a used book shop in Germany. It might still be around in American libraries, despite its age.

5rocketjk
jul. 19, 2015, 7:38 pm

I've started The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph Ellis. This is the newest book by Joseph Ellis, who also wrote Founding Brothers, among other works

6rocketjk
ag. 1, 2015, 4:43 pm

I finished, devoured, I should say, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis. This is a wholly admirable history: fascinating, informative and very well written. Ellis is also the author of the very popular Founding Brothers. The Quartet is the story of the drive to move the 13 colonies away from the Articles of Confederation and into a more binding arrangement within a much stronger central federal government, a drive that eventually led to the creation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The four main drivers of that movement, the Quartet of the title, were George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. I haven't bothered posting a review on the book's title page, as a quick perusal of the reviews previously posted show that I've nothing new to add to them. But you can read my more in-depth thoughts on my 50-Book Challenge thread, if you're interested.

7Ariesrising
abr. 2, 2016, 9:44 am

TURN did come out on TNT? and I did enjoy the first season immensely!

8JaneAustenNut
juny 14, 2016, 3:33 pm

Just read Jefferson's America about western exploration and expansion. Is anyone out there reading American History this summer? If so, what are you reading and what do you recommend?

9rocketjk
ag. 8, 2016, 4:22 pm

I am reading Washington and His Generals by Joel Tyler Headley. Published in 1874, the book contains thumbnail biographies of Washington and all of the generals of the Revolutionary army. I've just read the opening bio, of Washington himself, which is the longest, at about 75 pages. I guess it was the accepted wisdom 114 years ago, but Washington is painted here as a super-hero with scant faults to be found. Wisdom, strength, sagacity, endurance, humility . . . you name it! Still fun to read something written so long ago on the subject, and my copy is a first edition, which is also cool.

10elenchus
ag. 8, 2016, 5:08 pm

I re-read Inventing America, and loved it as much as the first time I read it. Hoping to get to another of Wills's titles later this year.

11Rick.Heli
Editat: oct. 1, 2016, 6:54 pm

Two new ones I just finished are

Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention by Mary Sarah Bilder ★★★★★
Fascinating and very detailed look at how Madison's notes on the secret convention were changed in the decades after, and why. Reveals a lot about changing American and Madisonian ideas.

The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government by Fergus M. Bordewich ★★★★
Really great look at how it all started, including some very amusing incidents such as when Washington read his constitution, saw that the Senate was supposed to "advise" him and so decided to pay a surprise visit to the Senate, only to find them unwilling to advise him at all. Never again, he vowed.

12rocketjk
oct. 2, 2016, 2:45 pm

>11 Rick.Heli: If you liked those, you will definitely be interested in the book I described above in Post 6, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis.

13jztemple
oct. 25, 2016, 11:18 am

Finished an excellent Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. Very readable and quite well researched.

14cbfiske
Editat: oct. 26, 2016, 10:28 am

>13 jztemple: Glad to hear good things about this one. I've read and enjoyed Philbrick's Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War and my son is a big fan of In the Heart of the Sea. I'll have to read Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution as well.

15rocketjk
des. 29, 2017, 3:09 pm

I recently finished Washington and his Generals by Joel T. Headley. The book was published in 1875 and contains short biographies on every man who served as a general in the Continental Army. The chapters are of varying lengths and mostly cover each man's war service, but they also offer quick surveys of each person's early life and time after the revolution as well. My copy is a first edition, so it's 142 years old!

16Betelgeuse
des. 31, 2017, 11:48 am

I am in the middle of Harlow Giles Unger's First Founding Father: Richard Henry Lee and the Call to Independence. Pretty good so far, balanced and less hagiographic than his earlier biography of Monroe.

17elenchus
des. 31, 2017, 12:53 pm

>15 rocketjk: My copy is a first edition, so it's 142 years old!

How is it holding up? So much of that follows from its handling by previous owners, of course, but it's also interesting the huge variation in binding for books of the same age.

18rocketjk
des. 31, 2017, 1:05 pm

>17 elenchus: It's holding up very well. I am the third owner, at least, but it seems to have been very well tended and very gently handled. The inside binding is fraying in the back a bit, but all in all it looks great. If you're interested, you can find my more in-depth reaction to the book, plus a jpg of the cover, on post 84 of my 2017 50-Book Challenge thread, which is here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/245926.

19PatrickMurtha
jul. 16, 2023, 8:23 pm

New here. Pocket bio: Retired humanities teacher, residing in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with two dogs and six indoor cats. Passionate about literature, history, philosophy, classical music and opera, jazz, cinema, and similar subjects. Nostalgic guy. Politically centrist. BA in American Studies from Yale; MAs in English and Education from Boston University. Born in northern New Jersey. Have lived and worked in San Francisco, Chicago, northern Nevada, northeast Wisconsin, South Korea.

I like everything about this topic! Currently reading James McHenry: Forgotten Federalist.

20PatrickMurtha
Editat: jul. 20, 2023, 11:13 am

I’m currently reading The Diary of John Quincy Adams: 1794-1845, a selected (but long) edition edited by Allan Nevins in 1951. JQA is an interesting case because he appeared to dislike politics and public life, frequently stating his preference for being a reader, writer, and scholar; yet when he had a chance to do that, after his Presidency and in his early 60s, he launched right back into a nine-term career as a US Representative that took him to his death at age 80. It is theorized that he suffered from depression, and he consistently seems to have sought out whatever conditions would make him most miserable. The family mantle always weighed heavily on him * , and although one might find his sense of public service admirable, he was privately quite cynical about political life and constantly frustrated by it. It is not just that he couldn’t achieve what he wanted through politics - that is common - but he took no pleasure in the process, as the more extroverted can. Meeting with supplicants, for example, was profoundly tedious for him.

So the effect of the diaries which he assiduously kept is sad, but also stimulating because he was a man of genuine cultivation and always “in the thick of things”.

* Not just on him. His oldest son committed suicide at 28, and his second son drank himself to death by 31.

21PatrickMurtha
jul. 30, 2023, 9:30 am

I love history books of the past because they were not written for us, nor with our preoccupations in mind; they had no way of knowing what our preoccupations would BE. They do provide a sense of the time when they were written, as well as the specific past they were written about. I don’t generally see them as “superseded”; they are informative. Whether the theory-ridden, hectoring books of today will hold up as well remains to be seen.

The 50-volume Chronicles of America series published by Yale University Press in 1918 makes for delightful reading, and are very handsome hand-sized volumes as well. I have read Charles M. Andrews’ Colonial Folkways: A Chronicle of American Life in the Reign of the Georges and Maud Wilder Goodwin’s Dutch and English on the Hudson: A Chronicle of Colonial New York, and am just about to start Emerson Hough’s The Passing of the Frontier; A Chronicle of the Old West.

22PatrickMurtha
jul. 30, 2023, 10:08 am

I am reading the States and the Nation series of bicentennial histories; ex-library copies can be had very inexpensively. (I get this uneasy feeling that libraries don’t hold onto anything anymore, but are in a constant itch to deaccession.)

I read North Dakota first, because who knows anything about North Dakota? And it was fascinating. Now I am starting South Carolina, because my sister was until recently living in Charleston. And I have New Hampshire in my possession.

A nice feature of the series is the inclusion of a photographic essay about the state in each volume. The notes and bibliographies are excellent, and are hard on my wallet, because I have discovered MANY books that I want to have.

A benefit of reading these books is that I afterwards feel a deeper connection to that state, that I kind of “own” it, because how many residents of a state have read a full-length history of their home? One in a thousand? Probably not even that many.

So even though North Dakota is one of the few states that I haven’t visited, because it is not on the way to anything and requires a separate trip, I now feel very possessive of North Dakota. Did you know that Lawrence Welk’s distinctive accent was North Dakota Russo-German? He didn’t learn English until he was an adult.