• A Leap in the Dark

  • The Struggle to Create the American Republic
  • By: John Ferling
  • Narrated by: Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff
  • Length: 23 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations.

In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark."

Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness of revolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson.

Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve the political and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians - the founders - played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes, this audiobook demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution. John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer. A Leap in the Dark is his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.

©2003 John Ferling (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about A Leap in the Dark

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  • Overall
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Loved every minute!

Beautiful narrative, great writing, elucidating and entertaining!!
I have enjoyed Ferling's work before and he does not disappoint. Get it!

4 people found this helpful

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Decent book, poor narration.

Decent story but narration is distracting due to mispronunciations, awkward pauses and clumsy inflections.

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The Founding with a light focus on economics.

Ferling's "A Leap in the Dark" is a well-researched and well-written general history of the pre-Revolutionary era up to the election of 1800. It's structured chronologically with each chapter covering a couple years with mini-biographies of all the major (and some minor) players.

The deeper one dives into Revolutionary history, you start to the sense that the Rebels really didn't have it so bad and there's an undercurrent of "what's the big deal?" That's not to say the American Revolution was a bad thing (it certainly wasn't), but with more and more examples of real oppressive tyranny occupying the historical space between the Revolution and now, complaints about George III or Parliament sound *almost* quaint.

Ferling's history eschews the histrionic and melodramatic and works from the premise that those pushing for rebellion had legitimate grievances, but that they tended to be of a type: economic interests and economic independence threatened or impinged upon coupled with a consistent lack of respect or influence from/within Parliament. As a result, his framing of much of the debates/conflicts over what form the government should take (and debates after the ratification) has an economic focus of agrarian Republicans vs merchant and moneyed Federalists.

Unfortunately, Ferling could have done a deeper dive into this economic framing device but really doesn't. So as a result we get a perfectly fine general history that leaves the reader wanting a little more of the suggested premise.

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Detailed history of American Revolution and after.

Great story, told to give an understanding of the precursors to revolution and the aftermath of revolution. Good reading by narrator, shows that the nation is not in a unique place, but a place we have been before.

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Narrator needs to bone up

Excellent book and I recommend it. The narrator has a very peasant voice to listen to,
But I would seriously recommend boning up on some of the pronunciation because it can be a bit jarring. There are quite a number of mispronunciations, the worst being pronouncing “impugn” to rhyme with “plunge.” Overall though, very informative and captivating telling of the material

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Very disappointed

Don't be fooled to believe you have a free book download during your 30 day Trail because if you're like me who likes to read along with the narrator of the book you will be asked to purchase the Kindle eBook prescription. My mother used this 30 day trial before and she was able to download and listen to narrator while reading along with the narrator in two of her books she got free with the same 30 day free trail promotion, but unfortunately it did not happen with me. I will never use this company again. I tried calling this company two times and got hung up on both times and I talked to six different tech people to help figure out why I couldn't read along with the narrator of the book I downloaded for free - to finally was told it was because I didn't purchase the Kindle Ebook.