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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

3.9 (659 )
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3.9 (207 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Vernon Grand Junction, CO, United States 06-20-04
    Vernon Grand Junction, CO, United States 06-20-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    "Remarkably moving book"

    I expected a book concerning the building blocks of constitutional government. This book is that, but it is more. It begins with a depiction of how uncommon and unlikely a thing it was that the ideals of liberty should actually take root, survive and even prosper in a world where such concepts were theoretical at best. It then talks of the one great failing of those days of building representative democracy, the inability of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton to resolve their differences short of violence. It then discusses the more usual (although more unlikely) manner in which differences were resolved by debate and the political process. The book ends discussing the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, a relationship in which President Adams felt personally betrayed by his vice president Jefferson. Here lies the essence of this book. Not only does this relationship illustrate the author's theme beautifully, it is also quite moving. It is not often in reading history that the reader feels the intimacy of men, especially not such icons of American history. I will never do great things, no books will be written about me, but I hope that I may have the essential humanity revealed by these two men in addressing the conflict between them and I believe that this book may have nourished my soul the extent that I may rise above my personal animosities. This is no small feat for a history book.

    45 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 09-23-06
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 09-23-06 Member Since 2006
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    "outstanding"

    I found this to be one of the best books I have listened to. first of all very balanced overview of a lot of history. Second, I think the author's idea to use a series of isolated events as bases for stories about the founding brothers to be very creative and original, and entertaining. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this and would really recommend to anyone interested in this period.
    While the narration is not optimal, I find many reviews here to be way too critical, as I thought it was fine. The narrator has done several other books and I have enjoyed several of them.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Munger San Diego, CA United States 03-26-06
    Mark Munger San Diego, CA United States 03-26-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Easy listening, educational"

    I have always had an interest in founding of the United States and events of the time. This book on tape provided an enjoyable listening experience at the same time providing an education about the founding fathers. I recomend this to anyone interested in these remarkable people.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Roswell, GA, USA 05-27-04
    Elaine Roswell, GA, USA 05-27-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This one is worth reading"

    Founding Brothers started off a bit slow but when it got off the ground, it was interesting. Ellis got to the heart of the matter by telling us the mini-biographies of the revolutionary heros in story form. He condensed lots of research and made history interesting. He depicted the founders as real people. I felt that Ellis took the romance out of the equation and told about our history in a more believable way. Great Americans are just individuals with short comings who do great things.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Allen walker 08-12-05 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Remarkable storytelling."

    Joseph Ellis has done a remarkable thing: created an American history that is as tantalizing as a mystery novel with the elegant prose of Fitzgerald.

    In "Founding Brothers," Ellis makes several difficult choices. He is trying to give a sweeping view of the generation that founded the American idea, but in an almost short-story format. Because of this, Ellis has selected what, he feels to be, are some of the most important moments in our history. From these snapshots he creates a panorama of the interactions between the men who loved, hated, respected and desipsed one another: our founding fathers. And he does a remarkable job.

    If the book has any flaws, and they are hard to find, it is that the book is too short. This allows Ellis to create a picture that can be misleading to readers unfamiliar with lives of the founders. The book is probably better for those who have an interest in reading about some of the fascinating intersections of between these important men, than for those wanting to brush up on U.S. history.

    Also, it is a great audio production. Excellent reader.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hammond 10-23-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Recommended"

    A different perspective of a well documented era. You get a pragmatic view of the men and woman behind the great memorials and statues. It’s interesting to see the every day human frailty’s mixed with the genius and courage that created what I consider one of the greatest moments of civilization. If your into American history or specifically political American history, this is a must read

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel Mayer Richardton, ND 06-20-10
    Joel Mayer Richardton, ND 06-20-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Good book, bad production"

    This is an outstanding book telling history of the early American Republic and showing that "The Founding Fathers" were not a monolithic block agreeing on everything and subsequently everything we do must be compared to what they "intended." It is a fascinating bit of history told in a narrative style.

    The main problem I have with this book I hope will be remedied by the "Enhanced" download. The problem is that periodically (every couple of minutes) it sounds as if the reader is taking a hissing breath that is hard on the ears. This is better, though, than the less common sound of "swallowing" where it sounds as if the reader is taking a gulp of water, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, rarely in a break of the story.

    To me the quality of the writing makes this inconvenience tolerable but I hope the "Enhanced download" will take care of this problem.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randal Martin The Woodlands, TX United States 02-17-06
    Randal Martin The Woodlands, TX United States 02-17-06 Listener Since 2005
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    "Wonderful Work!"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't understand the reviews that find this book boring. If this is boring then perhaps a mystery novel is more to your liking. There is nothing boring at all about this remarkable period in our history. I think Joseph Ellis did a great job weaving the stories together. He also does a very good job of setting the scene and context of the events so that you can better appreciate the outcome and what drove many of the debates. The best part of the entire book is the last section on the correspondence between Jefferson and Adams in their later years. The only reason I didn't give the review five stars was I felt that the book doesn't really do justice to Alexander Hamilton. Selecting the dual with Aaron Burr as the story that addresses him I think misses the critical contributions he made during the Washington Administration in the 1790's creating the foundations of public finance. While not exciting for some, it nevertheless was critical to the underpinnings of the country at that crucial juncture.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Huntington Woods, MI, USA 01-07-05
    Marc Huntington Woods, MI, USA 01-07-05
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    "Outstanding"

    Excellent account of Adams-Jefferson conflict and reconcilliation; and other accounts of forming of national government.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward M. USA 02-22-05
    Edward M. USA 02-22-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 5 people found this review helpful
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