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Publisher's Summary

Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History

In the dramatic period from 1800 through 1850, the United States emerged from its inauspicious beginning as a tiny newborn nation, to a near-empire that spanned the continent. It was a time in which the “dream of our founders” spread in ways that few men of that Revolutionary Generation could possibly have imagined. And it was an era that led to the great, tragic conflagration that followed—the American Civil War.

The narratives that form A Nation Rising each exemplify the “hidden history” of America, exploring a vastly more complex path to nationhood than the national myth of a destiny made manifest by visionary political leaders and fearless pioneers. Davis explores:

  • Aaron Burr’s 1807 trial, showcasing the political intrigue of the early Republic
  • An 1813 Indian uprising and an ensuing massacre
  • A mutiny aboard the slave ship Creole
  • The “Dade Massacre” and the start of the second Seminole War
  • The bloody “Bible Riots” in Philadelphia
  • The story of Jessie Benton Frémont and Lt. John C. Frémont

This audiobook is not only riveting storytelling in its own right but a stirring reminder of the ways in which our history continues to shape our present.

©2010 Kenneth C. Davis (P)2010 Random House

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  • Blake
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 03-15-14

Lesser known subtexts to the standard stories

This book covers roughly the same time period as "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe, which is much longer. But "A Nation Rising" doesn't attempt to be comprehensive or broad. Instead, author Kenneth C Davis picks a handful of lesser known and particularly interesting stories, and writes a relatively short overview of each. Each story seems to be selected because it gives a perspective and challenges standard assumptions about American history.

A few examples:
*Aaron Burr might be getting a bad shake from historians.
*Revolts by Slaves and Indians were a huge part of our history.
*Andrew Jackson was a psychotic, vicious, maniac, but did some good stuff too (not exactly news, I know, but Davis writes well on the subject)
*Jessie and John Fremont were America's biggest celebrities in their day, and their story is still a real page turner.

This book reminds me a bit of "1861" by Adam Goodheart in the sense that both books are written in the "compilation of short stories" format. But this one is shorter, more accessible to a broader audience, and doesn't seem to be use original sources. Most of the sources cited were history writers that I've either read, or heard of. Davis' strength is in his writing ability. He possesses the story telling skills of a good fiction writer, which is what makes the book so accessible. It also helps that he chose interesting, little known stories, and cut them short enough that there weren't any boring parts. For me, this book was a good choice because I didn't have the time this month to listen for 20+ Hours. "A Nation Rising" was short, but every hour was a quality one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Ended Suddenly

The book covered the characters with such depth and intensity; yet, I felt surprised that it was over so suddenly.

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  • M
  • 08-11-12

Excellent storytelling, interesting topics....

Any additional comments?

I liked the format of 6 individual historical incidents, none of which were overly long, but each of which was detailed enough to paint a clear picture of how life had been during the period. The topics were not the typical ones most of us learned in school, and it was refreshing to hear how individual personality traits, political intrigue, and racial and religious intolerance also played a part in the history of our country. And the narrator was great as well. <br/><br/>I listened to this audiobook pretty much all in one sitting, and strange though it may be to say about a history book, I will probably listen to this one again...

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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poor excuse for history

This is a political essay, not history. Davis has an agenda and molds historical references to fit it.
There is really nothing wrong with the narrator--the fault is in what he reads.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful