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Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation
     

Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation

by Ray Raphael
 

Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison—together they are best known as an intimate cadre of daring, brilliant men credited with our nation’s founding. But does this group tell the whole story? In his widely praised new history of the roots of American patriotism, celebrated author Ray Raphael expands the historical canvas to reveal

Overview

Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison—together they are best known as an intimate cadre of daring, brilliant men credited with our nation’s founding. But does this group tell the whole story? In his widely praised new history of the roots of American patriotism, celebrated author Ray Raphael expands the historical canvas to reveal an entire generation of patriots who pushed for independence, fought a war, and set the United States on its course—giving us "an evangelizing introduction to the American Revolution" (Booklist).

Called “entertaining yet informative” by Library Journal, Founders brings to life seven historical figures whose stories anchor a sweeping yet intimate history of the Founding Era, from the beginnings of unrest in 1761 through the passage of the Bill of Rights thirty years later. Here we follow the intertwined lives of 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 that includes a common village blacksmith, a conservative slave owner with an abolitionist son, and Mercy Otis Warren, the most politically engaged woman of the time.

A master narrative with unprecedented historical scope, Founders will forever change our image of this most crucial moment in America’s past.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Splendid storytelling that effectively captures and humanizes the tumult of the Revolutionary Era."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal

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.
—Douglas King

Kirkus Reviews
Popular historian Raphael (Founding Myths, 2004, etc.) expands the traditional cast of America's founders and examines "the collective work of the Revolutionary Generation.""Great men get great praise; little men, nothing." So said Continental Army veteran Joseph Plumb Martin, one of the "little men" Raphael highlights in this highly readable history about the messy work of revolution and nation-building. The author reminds us that this was not merely the business of a few talented geniuses, but rather a collective enterprise that also engaged such people as Dr. Thomas Young, the political firebrand who gave Vermont its name, and Timothy Bigelow, a Worcester blacksmith whose armed resistance to the British preceded Lexington and Concord. The narrative features three other primary characters: Robert Morris, the financier whose personal credit sustained the Army; Henry Laurens, the South Carolina aristocrat and reluctant revolutionary; and Mercy Warren, Plymouth's poet and historian, who looked on disapprovingly as her countrymen betrayed the Revolution's ideals. Raphael orders their stories around well-known career markers of the founder, George Washington. As the author charts Washington's familiar progress, he checks in periodically with each of his six principals, updating us on their activities, their contributions to and sacrifices for their country, which included imprisonment, destitution and death. Even as he credits them, though, Raphael doesn't shy away from noting their vanity, contradictions and self-promotion. Cameos by "second-tier" founders-including James Otis, Ethan Allen, John Laurens (Henry's son), Thomas Paine and George Mason-and numerous others add color and contextto a narrative that covers more than 30 years and touches each section of the colonies. Mercifully free of any political agenda-there's no attempt to diminish the likes of Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton or Franklin-Raphael's scholarship and scrupulously fair treatment deepens our understanding and appreciation, of what our ancestors wrought. Splendid storytelling that effectively captures and humanizes the tumult of the Revolutionary Era.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595583277
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

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, all available from The New Press. He lives in Redway, California.

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