I am mystified that this book doesn't have a higher rating. Perhaps it's a factor of expectations; for the book is not pure history, but more a discussion of interesting events, really looking at the facts and dissecting the motives and hidden agendas that accompany many stories told by the founding fathers themselves. Having just finished 5 biographies of the founding fathers, the stories were fresh in my mind, making these discussions very interesting and offering a fresh perspective to the pivotal events of the time. Had I listened to this book before reading the other detailed biographies, my experience may have been very different.
For those with an interest and basic knowledge of early American history, I definitely recommend this book. The follow-up to this book, American Creation, is perhaps even better than this. I really like the approach taken by Ellis, even if I don't agree with all his arguments. He presents a fascinating discussion and thorough analysis of many notable historical moments. His style is compelling, thought-provoking and well-balanced. The overall effect of his writing style truly brings history to life. I know sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true.
The narration is excellent. The perfect match for the style of the book.
I found the first vignette, regarding the duel between Hamilton and Burr, to be absolutely riveting. Likewise the last vignette, on the friendship that Adams and Jefferson eventually developed once they got over despising each other over the election of 1800, was very moving. The other four stories are also interesting in their own right, but didn???t hold the same intensity for me. But the whole thing is well written and well narrated. You won???t regret listening to this one.
If you can bear through the first chapter about "the duel," you'll be okay. Both the narrative and the narration get better after that.
Other than that, I agree with previous reviews. Ellis is fantastic. There's probably nothing new if you are a history grad student, but for those that aren't, the book is very informative.
I enjoyed the audiobook as it clearly described the various perspectives of the Founding Fathers and other personalities of the Age. However, the author adds sometimes odd personal annotations in what would otherwise be a solid historical work.
**The Audio itself was HORRIBLE and of low quality. Background noises have not been filtered out. You often hear the author swallowing and can actually hear him giving a small belch! The recording studio should never have released this shoddy work.
This is one to take in sections (at least for me); otherwise it become somewhat bogged down.
Joseph Ellis did lose his university position, but not due to plagarism. He had lied about serving in the US military in Vietnam - he did not. Plagarism did not come into the equation.
Others have taken exception to his portrayal of Jefferson: Ellis called him a liar; isn't the irony delicious?
“I discovered books and read forever,” - John Adams
The relationships within this brotherhood had such lasting and important effects, it is nice to see them presented together, and to see them struggle through each others' strong personalities to start a discussion about government that has been able to continue though today.
I loved the focus on key episodes to introduce broader concepts of the time and provide context around their decisions and thought processes. This book focused on how each man's strengths balanced the weakness of another, that without each other, they never could have achieved what they did.
Good narration in the audible format helped make this good book a great listen.
Plan on revisiting this after reading other books by this Author.
I enjoy U.S History not necessarily the dates and events but more what drove the events to occur, what were the motives and interactions between the ones making history. This book does that and more.
John and Abigail Adams.
The Brothers who made U.S. History.
So well written, purchased additional books from the author and will re-listen to this one in the near future.
No. This is due to the Author being a master writer. Every word is placed in literally the best choice possible--this is no easy accomplishment for writers--and therefore is best read, truly a savory treat for the mind.Of course, with that said, great writing is often great listening, which is the case for this book and I would therefore highly recommend listening to the historical accounts as well.
My favorite characters were found in the 2nd chapter, "The Duel." This is an especially unique chapter (which is difficult to state when placed against the plethora of American Independence writing) in that it really is the only book that the student of the revolution can learn of the play-by-play leading up to the most infamous--at least for Burr--duel in American History: Alexander Hamilton v. Aaron Burr.Due to the rarety of factual information surrounding this event and the extreme personalities of the two men involved, the listener is envoloped by the prose of Ellis' story telling and devours each point he clearly unravels.
This book is a great study for the student that has already perused the basic historical layout of the American Revolutionary Era and knows the general timeline. With that said, anyone interested in the particular era will enjoy, and gain quality insight into the founding generation; however, those with a basic understanding will get even more out of it as it jumps topically, rather than chronologically. On the other hand, those well read will feel they have heard/read all of the information at some point previously (aside from the well layed-out duel). Yet, I do still recommend the book for the simple opportunity to enjoy Ellis' beautiful prose. p.s. - For those worried about Ellis' "dishonest" past, this has no bearing on the book at hand. Having read a little over 20 books on the colonial/revolutionary age of America, I hesitated turning to this one for some time. With the knowledge I gained of the founding generation from my previous reads, there is no need to worry about false information within the writing. Forget about the shortcoming of an imperfect man and find yourself within the realm of a truly enjoyable historical account of the early U.S.A.
Founding Brothers is a fascinating story of our country's birth. Through the use of letters and anecdotes, we get a lighter view of the lives of the men responsible for leading us toward our freedom. That's not to say this is a light book, it certainly touches on the heavier aspects of the Revolution but it is presented in such a way that it flows easily and keeps the listener engaged.
Nelson Runger is not my favorite narrator. I could hear him smacking his lips and swallowing throughout the book and he has a tendency to pause at odd times. It however wasn't enough to ruin the book for me.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to get a good rounded view of the men who created our great country.
Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.
In the top 10
Interpretation of how comrades in arms in the Revolution became bitter enemies in the early republic, yet managed to lay a solid foundation of government while tearing each other's reputations to shreds. How their strengths, flaws and relationships (for they knew each other personally) created much of the framework of who we are as Americans. How history is interpreted vs. what the people who lived it actually experienced. This book is much more than a biography or a chronology of events.
His narration of the letters between Jefferson and Adams late in life - particularly his narration of John Adams - added emotional nuance essential to understanding how the major rift of the early republic (strong vs. minimal central government) came to be and how it nearly destroyed what so many fought to create.
No - you need time to absorb the subtle inferences of the writing. I also undertook a review of the biographies of the Founding Fathers for better backround. Basic biographical facts are not covered.
The narration and writing of the Jefferson-Adams correspondance is breathtaking. I pictured a bare stage with the two men and heard the dialog as well as picked up on their temperments. Like another reviewer, I felt that Hamilton's contributions were not valued by the author, unlike those of Jefferson, Madison and Adams. He is presented as a mere protege and shadow of Washington. I tend to think Hamilton gets the short shrift from historians because Jefferson, Madison,and Adams, all very capable writers, not only disliked him but also outlived him by many years. Hamilton left a prolific correspondence, but it ended with the duel in 1804. He wasn't around to defend himself, and as Ellis reminds us, history includes a generous amount of "spin."