Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation

Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation

4.1 8
by Harlow Giles Unger

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A compelling new biography of Patrick Henry, a monumental figure in American history, hailed in his time as the first of the nation’s Founding FathersSee more details below


A compelling new biography of Patrick Henry, a monumental figure in American history, hailed in his time as the first of the nation’s Founding Fathers

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 9/1/10
“A veteran biographer specializing in the Founding Fathers offers a short, sharp life of the Virginia patriot…A fine appreciation—and explanation—of freedom’s champion.”

Library Journal, 10/1
“[An] engaging popular biography… An appealing element here is the wealth of excerpts from Henry’s legendary speeches and revealing letters, seamlessly woven in with Unger’s narrative…A good choice for general readers seeking a relatively brief account of Patrick Henry’s political activity and contributions to early America.”

Asbury Park
Press, 9/19
“Pat Henry wasn't a Johnny One-Note patriot. And the author strives to reveal the whole Revolutionary enchilada here—calls to arms, demands for a bill of rights, fights against big government. Why, we could almost call this guy a Tea Party member!”

Wall Street Journal, 10/22/10
“[A] vivid biography of the Virginia firebrand.”

The Oklahoman, 10/31/10
“Unger shows how down-to-earth Henry was and how connected he was to regular people… [A] great book about one of our nation's founders.”, November 2010
“This biography adds to our further knowledge of the men who were our Founding Fathers.”

Hudson Valley News, 11/3/10
“Very readable, engaging.”

New York
Journal of Books, 10/26/10
“Harlow Giles Unger does a remarkable job of putting together the life and times of this most noted but little known Founder. Unger provides a startling history of the man who, though never in combat, remains one of the great patriots of his new country…Unger is not only a superior storyteller, he is also a gifted researcher; he sweeps the reader into the story, also enveloping us in the times…The book brings fresh insights to the process of building a nation with little direction from which to work…If you want to know what the Founders meant while deliberating the creation of the Confederation and the Constitution, and if you wish to understand why they made the decisions they did, read Lion of Liberty.”
Associated Press, 11/15/10
“With quotes from Henry's vivid oratory, Unger traces his rise in Virginia society before the Revolution. Though not quite a rags-to-riches tale—his folks were well-established lawyers and clergymen—Lion of Liberty tells entertainingly of how a homespun-clad upcountryman with an odd accent fitted into a British-trained, plantation-owning aristocracy of velvet jackets and white neckcloths.”

The Federal Lawyer,
November/December 2010

“[An] excellent biography…Will be valued by all who have an interest in the birth of this nation and the origins of government.”
Asbury Park Press, 11/14/10
“An easy-to-read and entertaining biography…Today's Tea Party talk of liberty and small government has made Patrick Henry seem especially relevant.”

Times-Dispatch, 11/14/10
“Unger recounts Henry's life and explores its ramifications in contemporary America. Whether you find it cautionary or inspiring might depend on your own political beliefs…[Unger] brings an ardent spirit of libertarianism to this engrossing and articulate biography; he argues implicitly that in Henry's aversion to a strong central government, the tea-party movement finds its philosophical cornerstone…Unger's telling of Henry's story is a beacon of vivid, accessible and thought-provoking biography.”

Virginian-Pilot, 11/14/10
“A reintroduction to this silver-tongued rabble rouser who was so blunt in his disregard for English law that dumbstruck opponents could think of no other response than to accuse him of treason., 11/22/10
“Excellent…[Unger] does remarkable work untangling a difficult subject…Fantastically engaging…Unger proves to be impressively sensitive and perceptive when chronicling some of the patriot's darker moments…[He] is able to weave the sometimes disparate, frequently contradictory strands of Henry's life into a coherent, absorbing narrative. He's adept at explaining Henry's proto-libertarianism, which will sound familiar to current American readers, as new political movements suspicious of the federal government have dominated the American conversation in the past several months. Unger's book is the perfect introduction to the founder whose rhetoric started a revolution.”

Newcity, 11/22/10
“In this accessible, elegantly written biography Harlow Unger brings the leonine patriot vividly to life, skillfully weaving his story together with the outsize history he helped shape.”, 11/24/10
“Provides a fine, multifaceted portrait of a stirring orator and accomplished politician…This is a noteworthy biography that shows both Henry’s importance to the establishment of the United States and the distance between the sort of nation he hoped to create and the one that exists two centuries later.”

Taft Bulletin, Fall 2010
“In this action-packed history, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger unfolds the epic story of Patrick Henry.”

Hanover Review, Winter 2010
“The first major new biography of Patrick Henry in a generation.”

Kingman Daily Miner, 12/3/10
 “Exactingly researched…Unger has captured the essence of Henry…Highly recommended…[A] personable historical account of one outstanding patriot.”

The Lone Star,
November 2010
“This excellent book should be read by all Americans.”

Our History Project Book Review, 1/10/11
“In this magnificent book Harlow Unger paints a portrait of Patrick Henry that will inspire, recharge and get us excited; if not passionate; about what freedom is and why we as Americans strive, desire and covet that ideal…[He] combines true story telling mixed with sound academic research.”, 1/10/11
“One of the most interesting facets of this book was how the author tied the various actors in the Revolution together and placed them at various events.”
Charleston Post and Courier, 2/6/11
“A well-written story of one of the key figures in America's Revolutionary movement and his later efforts in safeguarding the hard-won freedoms during the formation of the new nation…The author is a good storyteller, and his brisk, narrative style ably conveys the importance of the life and contributions of this great ‘Lion of Liberty’…An informative and enjoyable read.”
Reference & Research Book News, February 2011
“A popular biography of the public and private life of Patrick Henry…A compelling story that illustrates Henry's beliefs by centering on his actions and the events of his life.”

Washington Times, 2/16/11
“A highly readable account of the life of one of our most prominent revolutionaries.”

The Waterline, 2/24/11
“Unger brings Colonial Williamsburg to life.”
Magill Book Reviews
“An engaging account of Patrick Henry’s lifelong quest to promote individual liberties and fight against government interference.”
American Spectator, April 2011“[An] admirable new biography…Goes far to restore that able, eloquent, and courageous man to a proper place in our national memory…Unger’s vivid, gracefully written narrative brings Patrick Henry back to life.”

San Francisco Book Review, 4/5/11, and Sacramento Book Review, 4/8/11
Lion of Liberty, a book by Harlow G. Unger, is in many ways like Patrick Henry. Both don’t seem special from the outside, and both seem modest and homely at first glance. Yet, inside these two ordinary objects is a fire that excels on natural talent. a marvelous biography and has a different take on revolutionary heroes. Remember that they were mortal men.”

Collected Miscellany, 5/5/11
“A light and refreshing read of Henry’s life…This biography is history at its best, telling a story both human and philosophical. As Unger points out, Henry’s words continue to echo across America and inspire millions to fight government intrusion in their daily lives.”

Choice, July 2011“[Unger] wields a facile pen…There is insightful treatment of Henry’s family life and Henry as a lawyer…Recommended.”

Portland Book Review, 4/3
“[A] peek at the experiences of one of the most colorful and opinionated of America’s founding fathers. Anyone with an interest in American history will be fascinated with Henry’s myriad of speeches on independence and liberty. This book presents a behind the scenes look at not only the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, but one of the men who fought for its very existence…Cleverly written…Students and adults alike will enjoy this read about an incredibly important time in American history.”

Christian Science Monitor, 11/12/12

Library Journal
In this engaging popular biography, Unger (The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness) recounts the career and examines the political and moral philosophies of the persuasive anti-Federalist best remembered for the American Revolution's rallying cry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Unger focuses on Henry's radical views on individual liberty and states' rights as well as his vehement opposition, as Virginia's governor, to strong presidential powers. Unger argues that Henry, who feared an American monarchy, used his theatrical oratorical skills, developed as a successful young defense attorney in rural Virginia, to win nation-shaping political arguments. An appealing element here is the wealth of excerpts from Henry's legendary speeches and revealing letters, seamlessly woven in with Unger's narrative. Appendixes include the entirety of Henry's legendary "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech and a letter outlining his views on slavery. VERDICT Lacking new information and perspective, this title is a good choice for general readers seeking a relatively brief account of Patrick Henry's political activity and contributions to early America. However, scholars and even well-informed lay readers won't be satisfied.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Kirkus Reviews

A veteran biographer specializing in the Founding Fathers offers a short, sharp life of the Virginia patriot.

Most Americans know Patrick Henry only for his 1775 "liberty or death" speech. Like his northern counterpart, Samuel Adams, he was a driving force for independence who never received the first-tier historical treatment reserved for only a handful of the Founders. Unger (The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness, 2009, etc.) offers a few reasons why. First, notwithstanding his service in the House of Burgesses, his distinction as Virginia's first governor and his election three more times to that office, Henry was always something of an outsider, a kind of Andrew Jackson Democrat before there was such a thing. He made his name as a defender of the common people, an eloquent, unusually effective attorney in the state's Piedmont area. Though he always retained the healthy regard of Washington and John Marshall, Henry stood apart from the rest of the Tidewater aristocracy that ruled Virginia and later the nation. Second, though he frequently inserted himself in the raging political battles of his era, Henry was not as consumed by politics as, say, Jefferson or Madison. He preferred his thriving legal practice, large family and wide circle of friends. He bought and sold numerous properties and frequently relocated his home plantation, despite debilitating illnesses that plagued him most of his adult life.Finally, with the Revolution won and the new nation organizing itself years later under the proposed Constitution, Henry opposed ratification, thundering against the surrender of liberty to a federal authority, a stance that prevented his joining Washington's administration. Though he later softened his criticisms of the federal government, his health had so deteriorated that he declined Washington's numerous offers of high office, posts which might well have further burnished his name.

A fine appreciation—and explanation—of freedom's champion.

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Da Capo Press
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