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Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Gordon Wood does it again.

Gordon Wood is among the most respected scholars of the Revolutionary ERA & this book informs the reader what made our "Founding Fathers" so exceptional. He tells the reader a different story of the "Founding Fathers" but there is a central thread running through the di...
Gordon Wood is among the most respected scholars of the Revolutionary ERA & this book informs the reader what made our "Founding Fathers" so exceptional. He tells the reader a different story of the "Founding Fathers" but there is a central thread running through the different stories- they were all exceptional men w/great integrity. They each brought a different view of what they wanted in a new Nation & brought w/them a moral progress. He describes by what process each of the founders contributed to the birth of America. Each of the founders were decent, honest & learned(some more than others). This was an erudite & learned book, highly recommended for all Americans

posted by biff on August 15, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

This is the second book written by Gordon Wood I've had the opportunity to read, the other being 'The Radicalism of The American Revolution'. I'm sorry to say that in both instances I've been somewhat disappointed by the analytical style with which Wood approaches his s...
This is the second book written by Gordon Wood I've had the opportunity to read, the other being 'The Radicalism of The American Revolution'. I'm sorry to say that in both instances I've been somewhat disappointed by the analytical style with which Wood approaches his subject matter. Unfortunately, for me, this is somewhat akin to reading a didactic analysis of a great story rather than the great story itself and I found myself struggling with boredom and counting the pages to the end of each chapter so that I could get on to my next book in my current obsession with the American Revolution. While I do not question Prof. Wood's academic capabilities, I do think that he tends more toward historical analysis than historical narrative. This analytical style leads inevitably to conclusions and statements that sometimes appear somewhat subjective. One example is the inclusion of Aaron Burr in this collection of character analyses. On one hand, Wood acknowledges that Burr is not generally considered a 'founder' of the United States yet repeatedly refers to 'the other founders' when comparing Burr with Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, etc. as if Burr were among them. His subsequent analysis of Burr's character as completely lacking the qualities of the true founders begs the question of why Burr is even making an appearance in this book in the first place. Another criticism I have is Wood's tendency to make passing references to individuals not generally well known to most readers, (such as the 18th century English literary figure, Samuel Johnson, to whom Wood refers three times as 'Dr. Johnson' and once as 'Samuel Johnson') without explaining who they are. This is a common flaw one finds in works by some academics who seem at times forgetful that they are writing for a readership that is somewhat broader than the professorial cliques within which they move. It is a rare scholar indeed who possesses both academic ability as well as a talent for engaging the reader. Prof. Wood appears decidedly better on the first point than the second.

posted by Anonymous on February 12, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2006

    My Impressions

    This book focuses on the personalities of our founding fathers and dwells on their negative characteristics. Rarely are their accomplishments or positive qualities mentioned. Without knowing each personally, how could Mr. Wood presume to know their true thoughts, motivations and feelings? Even their sometimes voluminous correspondence was written and edited for posterity and was not revealing of the author. While pointing out their character ¿disinterested leadership¿, you get the feeling that the author is trying to say something positive about someone he really doesn¿t like. If you can handle some questionable negativity and appreciate their demonstrated character, it¿s an interesting book. Aaron Burr was an excellent example of a founding politician lacking character ¿ unfortunately today he would be a typical politician. Also, I was glad to see Thomas Paine included in the list of founding fathers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2011

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