Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

4.1 26
by Denise Kiernan, Joseph D'Agnese
     
 

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In the summer of 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy King George III and sign the Declaration of Independence—yet how many of them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, slaveholders, and scoundrels who signed this historic document—and the many

Overview

In the summer of 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy King George III and sign the Declaration of Independence—yet how many of them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, slaveholders, and scoundrels who signed this historic document—and the many strange fates that awaited them. Some prospered and rose to the highest levels of United States government, while others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers. Signer George Wythe was poisoned by his nephew; Button Gwinnett was killed in a duel; Robert Morris went to prison; Thomas Lynch was lost at sea; and of course Sam Adams achieved fame as a patriot/brewer. Complete with portraits of the signers as well as a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history buffs of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Kiernan and D'Agnese (coauthors, The Indiana Jones Handbook: The Complete Adventurers Guide) use a light and breezy tone to portray the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Using decidedly contemporary language, they succeed in stripping away preconceived notions of the more famous signers and bringing out something of interest about the other, less well known ones. The signers are grouped by state and presented in short profiles, none more than five pages long. The authors manage, nonetheless, to present a fairly complete picture of each man, focusing on a fact that seems to be the most interesting or unusual, often conveyed in the chapter's title, e.g., James Wilson of Pennsylvania is "The Signer Who Went Broke on Shady Land Deals." Each chapter is adorned with a facsimile of the signer's signature as well as a cameo portrait. In what can only be called a gimmick, the inside of the dust jacket has a replica of the Declaration. An appendix with the full text of the document, a time line, and "The Miscellany of Independence" follows the main text. VERDICT Although this book is entertaining, the tone and somewhat superficial treatment of each signer might make this work more suitable for YA readers, as well as for general readers new to the topic.—Jane B. Marino, Great Neck Lib., NY


—Jane B. Marino
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—On that immortal "Second of July," in 1776, 56 men described by King George III as daring and desperate affixed their names to the most celebrated document in American history. Or did they? With this work, Kiernan and D'Agnese present readers with astonishing individual portraits of all the signers in an attempt both to dispel some of the mythology surrounding the document as well as to establish a place in the historical discourse for those men not named Jefferson, Hancock, Franklin, or Adams. The marvelously arranged work lends itself to either straightforward reading or skipping around. The table of contents, divided by state, sparks readers' interest from the very beginning with its "the Signer who…" format, a feature that also allows great accessibility for reports and assignments. An entertaining and effective narrative of about three to five pages per individual is presented, and the full text of the document, a brief time line, and a section on the "Miscellany of Independence" are appended. Readers will delight as they discover just which signer "was the first to die," "slept in caves," "had the worst penmanship," and "went broke on shady land deals."—Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594743306
Publisher:
Quirk Publishing
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
76,309
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
1230L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 17 Years

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Meet the Author

Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Wired, Discover, and other national publications. D’Agnese’s work has twice been included in the anthology “Best American Science Writing.” Both are winners of Educational Press Association awards. They live in North Carolina.

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Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
auntkid More than 1 year ago
As a great fan of the musical "1776," finding a book that tells of the lives of these extraordinary (yet ordinary) men was a definite treasure. What I found most interesting was the information on those whose name was not as famous as Adams, Franklin, Hamilton or Jefferson. As a descendent of signers Roger Sherman and Stephen Hopkins, this book brings that short, but oh so important period of our history into focus. This is a must read for anyone who has interest in the founding of the United States!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for a fun and interesting book about the lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, then this one's for you. The authors share facts about the lives of these 56 men in a humorous and enlightning way. Well worth the brief but entertaining time it takes to read.
Page-TurnerBL More than 1 year ago
So, you call yourself a US history buff? Not until you've read this delightful exploration of the signers of our nation's Declaration of Independence. Sure, you may know about Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson -- but Thomas Stone who died of a broken heart? Yep, until you've read "Signing Their Lives Away" you don't know nothing about who signed what! This is a touching, humorous and accurate account of all the men who put their lives, families and fortunes on the line as they committed treason to sign a piece of paper declaring independence from Great Britain. Pretty dangerous stakes for the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. A 'must have' for anyone with children, anyone who calls himself a patriot -- or anyone interested our country's history! Accessible and honest, it makes no attempt to denegrate -- only inform. What a concept in non-fiction! Congratulations to the authors, Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a wonderful book, full of information I never learned in school and it written unlike a history book (so it wont put you to sleep).
MDmom More than 1 year ago
I bought the book for my husband, but he's found that he's had to share the book with me. I like the way I can select a particular signer of the Declaration and read about what happened to them after that tumultuous time. I started out with the one I am told I am a descendent of, and then went on to read about those from my state. After that, I went back to the beginning and am going through each state. I like that I can read each section in a quick period of time without losing track of the purpose of the book because I don't have long times to spend on reading.
gmk More than 1 year ago
As both a history buff and trivia expert, I was delighted with "Signing Their Lives Away"! It is fun to read, formatted in an interesting and attractive way, and uniquely informative. I was really impressed with the extent and detail of the research that went into this book. It covers many interesting aspects of American Revolutionary history that have been overlooked, or overshadowed by greater events of the period. It also dispels many myths which have been perpetuated about some of our founding fathers. Whether you are a historian, trivia nut, or just like fun books, I think this is a slam-dunk.
epicureanmoi More than 1 year ago
loved it!
efm More than 1 year ago
short vingnettes of the men who signed the Declaration Of Independence.
Virginian_by_Birth More than 1 year ago
Sogning Their Lives Away and its companion volume Signing Their Rights Away by the same authors is an excellent addition to the shelf of anyone who is interested in Early American History and the later lives of those patriots who signed The Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution ofthe United States. These short (in most cases) biographies give the reader the results of their deeds whether their death came in poverty or in being elevated tothe highest elected office in the land. Both books are quick reads, and since the chapters are short, can be put down and picked up without great loss of continuity. I, however, read both from cover to cover in one sitting.
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This is a superficial and casual treatment of a subject that has great possibilities but comes off and not-so-well informed barroom conversation.
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