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These fine essays analyze U.S. texts from the 1760s through the 1820s so as to illustrate the forms of expression, assumptions, conflicts, and ambivalences of the era. The texts include a remarkably broad spectrum, from the canonical Common Sense through slave narratives, notable court cases, popular novels, and the architecture of Monticello to The Last of the Mohicans. Two common themes linking the essays are that the language 'was richer and more nuanced than their inheritors' understood, and that the current generation could benefit from careful reconsideration of those complexities that are the foundation of American life. Useful insights abound.
— R. P. Gildrie