Ellis, J. J., & Runger, N. (2001). Founding brothers: The revolutionary generation. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. 9781402505393
Reasons for Reading: I found the book on the shelf at the HCPL branch where I work. Partially inspired by my girlhood crush on Thomas Jefferson (or was it Ken Howard playing Jefferson in 1776?), I checked out this audiobook. The first copy I borrowed had a scratch so I had to request another copy. The bottom line, though, I eventually got to read this book!
Summary: In shades of Paul Harvey “The Rest of the Story,” Ellis tells of the relationships between those the United States often refers to as the Founding Fathers – John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Ellis pinpoints six different moments which exhibit these relationships in their truest form. These include:
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.
– Joseph J. Ellis
Using these events, Ellis supports his claim that these men squabbled as though they were siblings.
What I Liked : Ellis excelled at filling in the blanks as he could. He rendered great portraits of these greats. I knew very little about Aaron Burr other than the “Got Milk?” commercial.
What I Disliked : I wasn’t crazy about the hopping around with the book. I wished Ellis had stayed closer to the original sequence of events.
Three Out of Five Pearls
Setting: Thirteen Colonies, The USA
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