Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
by Joseph J. Ellis
Review by Angela DeMott
Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers has a lot to say about the Revolutionary era. In addition, it is a commentary on our current political, economic, and social situation. By way of analyzing six significant moments in U.S. history, Ellis argues that there were as many, if not more, interpretations of the revolutionary spirit of 1776 (and what that actually entailed for the growing nation) as there are beliefs on what it means to be an American today; Ellis also argues that our first political leaders didn’t really know what they were doing (How could they have? There was no precedent!) yet their gut instincts and passion still lead us, eventually, to green pastures.
Founding Brothers was an extremely readable commentary on Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams, as well as (and this is what makes this book noteworthy) our current state of affairs. Founding Brothers is so much more than mere portraits (however interesting they may be) of the drafters of the constitution. At its core, this book is an examination of how history’s key movers and shakers reacted and what their reactions meant for future generations. While Ellis’ wordy style required a more disciplined approach, his passion for and knowledge of the subject, as well as his subtle wit, lit up each page for me.
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About the reviewer: Angela DeMott’s addiction to reading must have started sometime around second grade. That’s when she finished her first chapter book, Bruce Coville’s The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed. She’s been reading classics, literary fiction, mysteries, children’s lit, narrative nonfiction, and much more ever since. She graduated from Southern Virginia University with a B.A. in English and has an M.A. in Publishing from Rosemont College; I’m currently a web writing manager at Hibu, a digital marketing company.