Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers

The Revolutionary Generation

Book - 2013
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An illuminating study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic--John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.

During the 1790s, which Ellis calls the most decisive decade in our nation's history, the greatest statesmen of their generation--and perhaps any--came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the coming centuries. Ellis focuses on six discrete moments that exemplify the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation: 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.

In a lively and engaging narrative, Ellis recounts the sometimes collaborative, sometimes archly antagonistic interactions between these men, and shows us the private characters behind the public personas: Adams, the ever-combative iconoclast, whose closest political collaborator was his wife, Abigail; Burr, crafty, smooth, and one of the most despised public figures of his time; Hamilton, whose audacious manner and deep economic savvy masked his humble origins; Jefferson, renowned for his eloquence, but so reclusive and taciturn that he rarely spoke more than a few sentences in public; Madison, small, sickly, and paralyzingly shy, yet one of the most effective debaters of his generation; and the stiffly formal Washington, the ultimate realist, larger-than-life, and America's only truly indispensable figure.

Ellis argues that the checks and balances that permitted the infant American republic to endure were not primarily legal, constitutional, or institutional, but intensely personal, rooted in the dynamic interaction of leaders with quite different visions and values. Revisiting the old-fashioned idea that character matters, Founding Brothers informs our understanding of American politics--then and now--and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2013, ©2000.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780375405440
Branch Call Number: 973. 4 ELL
Characteristics: xi, 288 pages ; 25 cm


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Jan 10, 2018

Great book, a little hard to understand at times. Lots of great info.

Jun 07, 2017

This book is fantastic I'm learning a lot about the founding history of the United States I didn't know and hadn't considered. Joe's long drawnout writing style is very sleep inducing so it is making great bedtime reading I can seldom read more than one page before I am sound asleep. Most educational way to get to sleep I've ever found.

Apr 12, 2017

I had to push myself to finish this book. I felt like the author took pains to develop support for his conclusions, sometimes at the expense of readability. Still, I am glad I stuck with the task. It ended up as a good review of key players in our nation's infancy.

May 25, 2016

A lively perspective to learn history's complexity, with the least bias. An ingenious way to weave "brothers" experience, words, actions and relationships into a book full of serious subjects, and still offer a delightful read.

Vincent T Lombardo Oct 02, 2015

Ellis writes interpretive history, not biography or narrative history, but his passive voice and turgid prose mask conclusions that are quite ordinary. I started this book but could not finish it, just like I started and could not finish two of his previous books, "American Sphinx and "Passionate Sage". I think that Ellis is overrated.

cayuga60 Mar 12, 2011

Character matters, and how important it was in the founding of our country. Don't miss this Pulitzer-Prize winner.

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blue_lion_3784 Aug 02, 2015

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