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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2001)

de Joseph J. Ellis

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6,346711,340 (3.93)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 de Alexis de Tocqueville (StarryNightElf)
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    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Other Writings de 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 de 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.… (més)
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    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.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 71 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Before reading this book, my internal snapshot of what the founders of the U.S.A. did was a fuzzy but stable picture. Most of these images came from what I was taught in school and my trips to places like Mount Vernon and Monticello. I had inklings that my picture was neither accurate nor complete. But reading this book made many fuzzy sections much clearer.

Part of growing up is learning that things are seldom straightforward. People are complicated; therefore, the situations they find themselves in are anything but tidy. I have never encountered a book that makes that fact as evident as this one does.

Historian Joseph J. Ellis writes not as much about the founders themselves as about the situations that developed our national mythos. Starting with the infamous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Ellis examined what happened and why it happened. He presents past interactions that led to this deadly confrontation and the character traits (and flaws) of both men. Finally, he speculates on the outcome of the duel for the nation and posterity.

From this dramatic start, he moves on to the complicated arguments over the Constitution and whether the federal government or the states should be more powerful. The economic interests of the south, especially in Virginia, had an outsized influence on the outcome, which resulted in some issues remaining unsolved. He covers crucial issues ranging from slavery, George Washington’s legacy as President, and the battle between the Republicans like Madison and Jefferson (who generally favored individual independence and states’ rights) and the Federalists like Washington and Adams, who saw the need for a strong national government and a united effort.

I was surprised to find myself pleasantly swept up in the questions Ellis explores. He made it possible to grasp the issues with minimal effort. I tip my hat to him as a historian and a writer. My eyes tend to cross when learning about politics, government, and law, but he did a masterful job of making it understandable and interesting. If you want to increase your understanding of the revolutionary period, I’d pick another book to start learning. It would be an excellent choice once you have a grip on the events and the issues at stake. ( )
  Library_Lin | Jan 16, 2023 |
I'm not a big history buff but I liked this book and I feel I learned a lot about the 1790s. Very readable, really made the people involved come alive for me. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Excellent book and fast read. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in early American history. The author takes vignettes about well-known incidents and places them in the perspective about related people and times. Like many recent historian he takes a somewhat dimmer view of Thomas Jefferson than the nearly fawning coverage he received in the past. This is a good thing. He also makes clear that the issue of Negro slavery was deliberately deferred since patching together a nation while at the same time resolving that issue would likely have been impossible.

My minor criticism is that he gives Aaron Burr a far less constructive role than I believe he had. This is just a quibble, however. ( )
  JBGUSA | Jan 2, 2023 |
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 |
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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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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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