Friday, July 6, 2012

Reflections: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

 Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on Joseph J. Ellis's Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation:

"Reading a book like Founding Brothers reminds me why I love American History so much.  Although I also enjoy more hardline, fact-filled, and focused historical accounts, I thoroughly enjoyed Founding Brothers because of its greater focus on individual personalities (although there was no shortage of historical facts).  Founding Brothers provides wonderful insights into some of our most revered founder fathers, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison.  After reading the book, I feel more convinced than ever that the founding fathers were both as flawed as any other human being but were also exceptionally special and important people.

It's quite staggering to realize that so many talented and remarkable people were all so intimately involved in such singular events as the American revolution and the subsequent drafting of the Constitution and the literal building of a new nation.  Ellis's book highlights some of the consequential moments during those events, but more especially highlights the personalities that were involved.  You get a glimpse of how they agreed with each other and especially how they disagree—sometimes resulting in decades long feuds.  Ellis provides numerous interpretations into why certain founders did or said certain things, most of which seem perfectly valid.  There is, of course, a great deal that goes unrecorded, but what is recorded provides the basis for Ellis's excellent book.

I would strongly recommend Founding Brothers.  It's well-written and coming in at only 304 pages (that includes all of the notes and bibliography) it's not an overly taxing book, whereas many history-based books can be.  I feel much more aware of some of the founding fathers' personalities and their personal interactions with each other.  And when it comes to the founding fathers, that subject will always interest me."

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