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RunTime: 10 hrs, 8 CDs. A revelatory study of how Americans were bound together as a young nation by the words, the image, and the myth of George Washington and how slavery shaped American nationalism in ways that define and haunt us still.
Furstenberg (history, Univ. of Montreal) presents a provocative view of the cult of the Founding Fathers, centered on the first President and father of the country, George Washington. In particular, the author concentrates on the issue of slavery: How did a nation whose intellectual premises involve the "consent of the governed" allow itself to tolerate slavery as long as it did, from 1776 to the Civil War, 1860-64? One answer, which Furstenberg belabors relentlessly, is that the popular media and culture of the time elaborated upon the idea of the Founding "Fathers" to create the paternalistic idea that citizens should be like grateful children moving in lockstep with the supposed expectations of the kindly and protective daddy. As a rationale supporting slavery, popular culture-the endless newspaper reprinting of Washington's "Farewell Address," artists' conceptions of his extended plantation family with him in the center blessing them all, illustrated plates and mugs, and short and long biographies and schoolbook entries-showed Washington as beloved by his wife and servants and slaves. Narrator Michael Prichard has made a name for himself among audiobook aficionados by reading the corpus of Nero Wolfeand the Dirk Pitt adventures, but here his reading is fairly flat. His voice is not well suited to a meandering history without dramatic movement. Nevertheless, this is an appropriate selection for American history collections in academic and public libraries.
A profoundly important book for anyone interested in the origins of the American Republic. (Ira Berlin, former president of the Organization of American Historians)
|1||The apotheosis of George Washington||25|
|2||Washington's family : slavery and the nation||71|
|3||Mason Locke Weems : spreading the American gospel||105|
|4||Civic texts for slave and free : inventing the autonomous American||147|
|5||Slavery and the American individual||187|