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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation | [Joseph J. Ellis]

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

A New York Times best seller, Founding Brothers is an engrossing work of nonfiction from National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis. It is a book that uncovers the substance behind many of our most cherished historical tales. Here are six fascinating, well-researched chapters involving such icons as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 2001

A New York Times best seller, Founding Brothers is an engrossing work of nonfiction from National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis. It is a book that uncovers the substance behind many of our most cherished historical tales. Here are six fascinating, well-researched chapters involving such icons as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Each chapter illuminates a particular occurrence that helped determine the course of American history while the nation was still in its infancy. Witness the infamous duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and a secret dinner party that ended the haggling over a site for a permanent national capital.

The Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, Joseph J. Ellis draws on his expertise to craft an engaging portrait of the men who shaped democracy. Nelson Runger, acclaimed for his narrations of nonfiction works, delivers a crisp reading that breathes life back into America's founders.

©2000 Joseph J. Ellis; (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Lively and illuminating...leaves the reader with a visceral sense of a formative era in American life." (The New York Times)
"Lucid....Ellis has such command of the subject matter that it feels fresh, particularly as he segues from psychological to political, even to physical analysis.... Ellis's storytelling helps us more fully hear the Brothers' voices." (Business Week)
"Vivid and unforgettable...[an] enduring achievement." (The Boston Globe)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Lynda Colleyville, TX, United States 05-20-10
    Lynda Colleyville, TX, United States 05-20-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just get past the first chapter and you're fine"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Mazur Midwest, USA 07-09-06
    Dan Mazur Midwest, USA 07-09-06 Member Since 2014

    Maze

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    "Interesting Perspective"

    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.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward M. USA 02-22-05
    Edward M. USA 02-22-05
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    "Absolutely Fantastic! Without peer!"

    I literally found myself aplauding after one of the chapters. Granted, I was alone in my kitchen cooking, but none the less, this is one supurb book.

    This book looks at the cast of characters from the revolutionary times and frames the whole period in common sense, personal and practical terms.

    And the reader is just fantastic, too. How many good books have we not been able to listen to because the reader was horrible. Not this reader. He's as good as the book.

    If you want a read that's not your standard textbook take on the revolutionary period that's read well and is a "can't put it down" situation, this is for you.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karl Des Moines, IA, USA 05-24-04
    Karl Des Moines, IA, USA 05-24-04
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    "Interesting"

    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?

    20 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 03-26-15
    Matthew 03-26-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Brilliant"

    Read in episodes. Rare revealing details. Ellis' work encourages the American Experiment to continue. It deserves a place next to the Founders' letters themselves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 10-19-14
    James 10-19-14 Member Since 2014

    Addicted to reading traditional books. Overwhelmed by backlog of books to read. If it's early Americana then I want it.

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    "Well researched"
    If you could sum up Founding Brothers in three words, what would they be?

    Tons of information


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed the different relationships that the book explored. It's was quite in depth, yet it did not beat me down with useless details. It is a must-have in the library of a history buff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Great Cacapon, WV, United States 09-10-14
    Helen Great Cacapon, WV, United States 09-10-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Things really haven't changed as much as I thought"

    How fascinating and remarkable to meet these founding brothers (plus one sister...Abigail) as human beings with fragile egos, remarkable strengths, and human frailties. Jefferson came across as a bit of a bully, Adams as a stubborn egotist, and Franklin as a showman. Washington came through the best. He embodied the Revolutionary spirit that kept the show from closing early!

    One can't resist comparing these loyalties to those that came after World War II. We had the unassailable Eisenhower and a period of bipartisan achievements. The question is, can we achieve the same as we move farther from that "finest hour" mentality?

    The founders knew there were challenges down the road as the nation would finally confront the slavery issue. And yet they chose to dodge the bullet leaving it for the next generation.

    Interesting.

    I thought the prose and the reading was a bit tedious and pedantic. I think there are better story tellers, but the way the subject was researched and packaged was great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devon Rensselaer, NY, United States 07-03-14
    Devon Rensselaer, NY, United States 07-03-14 Member Since 2010

    “I discovered books and read forever,” - John Adams

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    "Effective glimpses at our founders"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale 08-22-13
    Dale 08-22-13
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    "Great Perspective of the founding Brothers"
    Would you listen to Founding Brothers again? Why?

    Plan on revisiting this after reading other books by this Author.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Nelson Runger – was your favorite?

    John and Abigail Adams.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The Brothers who made U.S. History.


    Any additional comments?

    So well written, purchased additional books from the author and will re-listen to this one in the near future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle 02-28-13
    Kyle 02-28-13
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    "A Proper Choice for Mid-level Readers of Am. Rev."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Founding Brothers to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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