"Splendid storytelling that effectively captures and humanizes the tumult of the Revolutionary Era."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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Historian Ray Raphael has chosen seven representative characterssome famous, some unknownto anchor a sweeping new history of the entire Founding Era, from the beginnings of unrest in 1761 through the passage of the Bill of Rights thirty years later. Readers experience the Revolutionary War by following the lives of both George Washington and a private soldier in his army. America’s richest merchant, who rescued the nation from bankruptcy, goes head-to-head with a peripatetic revolutionary who incited rebellion in seven states. Rounding out the company is a richly nuanced cast of other characters, including Mercy Otis Warren, the most politically engaged woman of the times; a common village blacksmith; and a conservative slave owner, together with his abolitionist son. The culmination of Raphael’s extensive research into the history and meaning of our nation’s origins, Founders returns us to the dynamic roots of American patriotism.
In this brisk narrative survey, Raphael offers a history of the events between the outbreak of colonial protest in the 1760s and the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. He does so through the lives of seven people, some, like George Washington, justly celebrated, others obscure. All seven and many others come alive in their acts and words, their stories serving as the spine of the book. No one will come away without a better idea of how social class, ideas, careers, ambitions and plain luck interwove themselves into the revolution carried on by an entire people. Raphael also weaves his tale around such staple themes of American history as the growth of popular sovereignty and westward expansion. From the author of A People's History of the American Revolution, none of this is surprising, nor is the skill of his pen. The book adds nothing to what's already known, but it will delight readers and no doubt add to their knowledge through a tale rarely told so well. 27 b&w illus. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Raphael (A People's History of the American Revolution; Founding Myths) again attempts to give credit to patriots whose contributions to the nation's founding are not celebrated or even widely known. Stars of this entertaining yet informative account include military bankroller Robert Morris, conservative politician and reluctant rebel Henry Laurens, blacksmith-turned-insurgent Timothy Bigelow, young and eager soldier Joseph Plumb Martin, rabble-rousing country doctor Thomas Young, and Puritan poet-turned-political commentator and historian Mercy Otis Warren. The final key player in this narrative is George Washington, and Raphael manages to put a fresh spin on his overly familiar story. The author relies heavily on primary sources, especially diaries, letters, and Martin's and Warren's published works, to craft a highly readable work of popular history that is sure to be a hit among readers who prefer to look at history from a bottom-up perspective. A worthy complement to Raphael's previous works, this is recommended for American history collections in all public libraries.
Ray Raphael has taught at a one-room public high school, Humboldt State University, and College of the Redwoods. His twelve books include Founding Myths, A People’s History of the American Revolution, and The First American Revolution.
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