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Posted April 2, 2005
An 1800 Political Polemic
I agree with the first reviewer in this series. Ferling does disappointly unfairly represent Adams. Adams worked diligently to keep the U.S. out of war, either with England or France, especially of course France. McCullough makes that point very clearly and strongly. Ferling presents the idea the U.S. didn't go to war with France as almost accidental. Jefferson continue to favor the French Revolution even during the Reign of Terror, although his public pronouncements on this matter were more discreet. Perhaps equally important in looking at the failings in this book is the treatment Ferling gives to Hamilton. Hamilton is portrayed merely as a politically ambitious, power-hungry individual. While he may have had some personal ambitions, Chernow made it clear that Hamilton was working with a strong philosophy of creating a national government and an economically strong country, two points Jefferson cared little about. If it were left to Jefferson, of course, there would have been a series of small countries, e.g., Virginia, and not the United States. Even Lincoln had to ignore Jefferson's views during the Civil War to keep the Union. Ferling's book would have made a great polemic on Jefferson's behalf during the election, but, unfortunately, it is not well-balanced, or thorough, history.
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