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Prolific historian Bernstein (adjunct, New York Law Sch.) follows up the brief biography Thomas Jefferson with another accessible work of popular history on a weighty topic. In intertwined biographical sketches that synthesize the scholarship of others from a bevy of primary and secondary sources, he succinctly summarizes the accomplishments of iconic early American statesmen and politicians. More interestingly, he also examines the conflicting and wavering legacies of these Revolutionary leaders and crafters of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Bernstein stresses that the founders were noble but imperfect men, not flawless demigods, and his repeated references to the distinction of his approach in this regard can get tiring. Still, it's to his credit that he does not shy away from commenting on what he perceives as a lack of foresight and courage by the founders when crafting laws for the fledgling republic, most notably on the issue of slavery. The endnotes and bibliography are generously annotated, increasing this book's value as a useful starting point for further, more scholarly research. Recommended for general readers seeking an introduction to the legacies, political careers, and disparate roles of these men in the creation and early leadership of a new nation.