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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic | [Gordon S. Wood]

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic

In Empire of Liberty, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812. As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life - in politics, society, economy, and culture.
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Publisher's Summary

In Empire of Liberty, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812.

As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life - in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state, like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Named a New York Times Notable Book, Empire of Liberty, part of The Oxford History of the United States series, offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.

The Oxford History of the United States is considered the gold standard for serious historians and general readers (and listeners) alike. Three of the titles have won the Pulitzer Prize for history; two have been Pulitzer Prize finalists, and all of them have enjoyed critical and commercial success.

Please note: The individual volumes of the series have not been published in historical order. Empire of Liberty is number IV in The Oxford History of the United States.

Listen to more of the definitive Oxford History of the United States.

©2009 Gordon S. Wood; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner - Best History Audiobook, 2011

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-21-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-21-14 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "How our country evolved and survived."

    This is a wonderful book on the early years of our country. It begins just after the Revolution and ends right after the War of 1812. The Presidents covered are Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. I am surprised how we revere these men so highly because if they were elected today there Presidency would not get as high of marks, excepting Washington. He was exactly the right leader to have as our first President.

    This book gives a lot of time to the power of the Presidency which is engagingly told as it evolved into what we have today. It also talks about the Supreme Court and it's evolution.

    I enjoyed the chapters on the "Great Enlightenment" and other religious movements that went on during this period. The separation of Church and State gets some explanations too.

    The most surprising thing I learned was what a hypocrite Thomas Jefferson was and not only with his slaves but as President. He didn't think a United States Bank was a good thing until he became President. He was so pro France that he wanted us to get involved against Great Britain. He said he wanted freedom for all men, but he really meant only the elite. He felt the lower classes were too stupid to be trusted to vote. He was a very difficult man to really understand as he did much good for our country but a lot of what he said was hard to swallow.

    I liked the way the author described our national character evolving differently from other countries. Most farmers in America were also blacksmith, weavers, tanners or some other trade to supplement their farming.

    The War of 1812 was a war of contradictions. It was badly managed by the Madison administration and it's still a surprise to me on how we won the war! I think Great Britain was just tired of fighting.
    It also brought the country together as nothing had done before and we finally became a nation of states instead states united as a nation.

    The narrator was very good and this is a long book, 30 plus hours so he was a pleasure.

    This book is Book 2 in the Oxford History of the United States. I knew very little about this time in our country's history as we mostly learn anecdotes of the various statesmen and many of them aren't true. I also have the next volume and will read that soon. I can highly recommend this book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus Brasília, Brazil 02-14-14
    Marcus Brasília, Brazil 02-14-14 Member Since 2010

    mvrb

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    "An Account of a Decisive Period of America History"

    The book refers to the firsts decades of America Republic. The story relates to the presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison. The challenges and the struggles of the early Republic are exposed with clarity and enable the listeners to understand the development of America's political institutions. The performance is fair, providing a good listening experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 07-08-12
    Stephen 07-08-12

    Fictional characters in narrative

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    "Heroes of the homeland, warts and all"

    I enjoyed this work as long as I didn't take it too seriously, and can thus recommend it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ira Pittsburgh, PA, United States 12-24-11
    Ira Pittsburgh, PA, United States 12-24-11
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    "Slow"

    Very dry. No narrative flow or character development. I gave up after 2 chapters. For an excellent book in this series, try Battle Cry of Freedom.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Canter Colorado Springs 03-01-15
    B. Canter Colorado Springs 03-01-15 Member Since 2008
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    "Reads Like a Story"

    Histories can tend to be dry reading. This one kept my attention well. It is not as captivating as an historical fiction novel, but was undoubtedly more accurate. It was especially interesting to me as I was taking a college course in US History while I was listening. It gave me a much better appreciation for the revolution in thought and culture that precipitated the American Revolution and that grew out of it - two very different things. This American experiment in Republican liberty is truly an astonishing thing, and the founders of our country deserve our deepest respect and admiration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A 09-20-14
    A 09-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "I gave up too early"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes but not as a fun read. I started it but put it down till I ran out of fun books to read. You might want to keep a thesaurus handy.


    What could Gordon S. Wood have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Make it required reading for every college student, politician, and anyone with a care about the current horrors of our government.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Fass’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Made me realize that not a whole lot has changed since the beginning of the nation. It really points out how we never learn.


    Any additional comments?

    If you care about politics at all read this!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 08-12-14
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 08-12-14 Member Since 2013
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    "overall outstanding"
    What did you like best about this story?

    fascinating for the most part


    Any additional comments?

    This was on my to read list for a long time given the excellent reviews but never thought i would be that interested in this period of history, but this is an outstanding (one of the best) additions to the Oxford History series. The author really brings this period in history to life and he filled in critical deficits in my understanding of american history. There were just a few sections, mostly to do with religious revivalism, that i thought were too long and rather boring, but for the most part really well written, interesting, and well performed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14 Member Since 2012

    A driver that likes to listen to books instead of the radio.

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    "The interaction of biographies"

    It seems that when a biography is written, it is biased for or against. In this time period you get to experience the founding fathers interacting with each other. Whatever your view of any of the founding fathers you might come away with a different perspective of them. Going in I was not a fan of Jefferson at all but after this book I think that the U. S. might not be the way that it is without him. Also some of the fights back then are still happening today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    laurie 07-13-14
    laurie 07-13-14

    I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant Pilots Flying by the Seat of Their Pants"

    Remarkable, really, how our Forefathers, having no template but knowing what they didn't like about how they were being governed, created the foundation of our United States.Their forethought was astonishing. They got just about everything right . . . except abolishing slavery, and of course that is a huge "except." I did not know, however, that the general belief was that slavery would soon come to a natural end because of the influx of so many workers from Europe. The invention of the cotton gin changed all that by making possible the quick processing of a type of cotton that had been unprofitable.

    This fascinating book, though, is largely about the ripple effect liberty, democracy, and equality had on people's mindset--how they conceptualized themselves, sprang to newfound opportunities, worshiped, and interacted. It was in many ways with innocent, celebratory wonderment.

    This book is part of the Oxford Series of American History, and I will listen to all the volumes, I am sure. I learned so much, and I felt awe and gratitude for what these brilliant minds created.

    As for the narrator, Robert Fass did not miss a beat. He read at a good clip but with proper rhythm and inflection. He did a superb job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S.S. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany 08-26-12
    S.S. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany 08-26-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Probably not for general interest"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No, but buyers must note that it deals with a very specialised field, namely a brief period in American history. American history buffs might enjoy it much more.


    What was most disappointing about Gordon S. Wood’s story?

    I thought that often there were too many examples of the point the author was trying to make, which resulted in a measure of tedium. One then struggled not to put the book down.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance is fine, but rather bland.


    Did Empire of Liberty inspire you to do anything?

    No


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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