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Jonathan YardleyThis book consists of seven essays (none of which has been previously published in its current form) and a brief afterword in which Ellis continues his exploration of the reality, as opposed to the mythology, of the founding. It can be argued, of course, that in the past there is no "reality," no final truth, only what historians and others choose to make it, but historians can explore that past free of hagiography on the one hand or, on the other, the ideological biases that color so much of what passes for scholarly history these days. Ellis, who teaches history at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, gives the founders their full due but insists that they made serious mistakes—they failed to end slavery, "or at least to adopt a gradual emancipation scheme that put it on the road to extinction," and they failed "to implement a just and generous settlement with the Native Americans"—and that blind luck gave them a mighty assist.
—The Washington Post