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Reader reviews and comments on Founding Brothers, plus links to write your own review.

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Founding Brothers

The Revolutionary Generation

by Joseph J. Ellis

Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis X
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 288 pages
    Feb 2002, 304 pages


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I'm a history teacher that assigns this "book of death" to all the pitiful wretches that have written about their trials here. I am here to offer a defense.

First of all, I've read enough books about history to know that, while there are dry spots in Mr. Ellis's work (especially in the chapter dealing with Hamilton's compromise with Madison, in which a lot of Hamilton's economic plan is discussed), the work as a whole is very insightful. The "dullness" that a lot of students seem to be referring to is what others would call "depth" and "substance." Mr. Ellis doesn't jump from topic to topic in an attempt to satiate painfully short attention spans. Rather, he takes a few events and discusses them thoroughly (well, thoroughly relative to most history textbooks these days). The brevity of the book obviously limits its thoroughness, but I suppose that it would have only made the students wail all the more if the book had been 600 pages, as many works are, rather than the 250-ish pages that it is.

In his use of these stories, Mr. Ellis makes a convincing case for an overall view of American history, which I have found very helpful, both in teaching my class and in my own continued investigations into American history, and find to be a useful jumping-off point at the beginning of the year. So my response, in an attempt to balance the glut of negativity about this book on this message board, is to offer that perhaps the poor reception by students has less to do with the book itself and more to do with the fact that they were REQUIRED to read it.

This book offered an illuminating look into the relationships between the great people who foundes our nation. It made the political tide of the time palpable.

I loved this book. It offered insight into particular instances and key events of our nation's beginning. For me, it was suspenseful. I really didn't want to put the book down. I'm a college student and I'm studying history quite a bit. This historical narrative was quite a refreshing course in American history.

I am 17 years old and I enjoyed this book because it really familiarized me with the characters involved in running the United States early in history. It was creatively written and shows the early politics and tensions in American society. I truly learned a lot from this book and found that it made events in history that I had originally thought very boring much more interesting and familiar. It made me more interested in early American politics than I had ever been before and was overall an enjoyable read.

I read this book because I am a mom who likes to keep up on what her kids are reading for school. I thought that this was a wonderful book in that the author made the time period really come alive for me. I have a much better grasp now of who our founding fathers were and what motivated them. However, I can understand why most students do not like this book. The language and vocabulary used are at a much higher level than this television/computer addicted generation is used to. For some students, reading this book will be a struggle. But for those who perservere and for those who wish to raise their reading level, this is a great book to read.
Nate Moran

I personally found the book hard to put down. The author beautifully crafts this intriguing study of the revolutionary generation. It is very deep and complex in nature, which may prove difficult to understand to those who are not strong readers or lack a strong comprehension of the english language. The author challanges the reader by using complex sentence structure, profound and intricate thought lines. as well as anequally complex vocabulary in the tradition of classic american literature. If a reader were to find this book didfficult to follow or boring then the failure is most probably the readers, not the authors. Bravo! Mr. Ellis.

All of the US History that I had forgotten with fascinating associations and an appreciation for the fragility of our nation's infancy. I went on to read American Sphinx, equally good.

I loved it. I sleep with my copy.

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