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 for killing in a duel Alexander Hamilton, whose audacious manner and deep economic savvy masked his humble origins; jefferson, renowned for his eloquence, but so reclusive and ...
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 for killing in a duel Alexander 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 primarily intensely personal, rooted in the interaction of leaders with quite different values and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.
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This was like being in high school history class. I read maybe 1 chapter. Most boring book I read for our bookclub, and always loved history until this book.
Dec 22, 2011
Really makes one understand how the political process works. Puts a human face on our founding fathers.The nitty details of what it takes to make the first true democracy work. Every high school political history class should read and discuss a segment of this book.
Apr 28, 2009
Reads like a good history, mystery, and philosophy
I have now purchased this title in CD, and two paperbacks. Whenever I try to explain the American character, I find myself referring back to this text and buying it as a gift. Because they did not know in advance that they would not end up hanging either together or separately, these American Revolutionaries behaved with the highest integrity possible and trusted each other's sense of honor and integrity. Character mattered because integrity mattered, and Ellis explores these historical greats' characters with wit, compassion and wisdom in prose that is easy to read and enjoy. From unravelling the mystery of who first pulled the triggter in the Hamilton-Burr duel to the final exchange of letters between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who died within hours of each other on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, this is a terrific read!
Oct 19, 2008
Ellis is phenominal
Joseph Ellis does an exceptional job of bringing out the relationships between the early leaders of our country. He is able to personify the subjects allowing them to become more then mere facts in a textbook and provides remarkable insight into the challenges they faced.
Oct 4, 2007
It's a good book, very entertaining, but I am not sure how mr. Ellis came about some of his 'facts'. THe stories are good, but there are some holes that Mr. Ellis obviously speculated about. This should not be the last book someone reads on the founding fathers.
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