Your audiobook is waiting…

Rush

Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father
Narrated by: John H. Mayer
Length: 22 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The monumental life of Benjamin Rush, medical pioneer and one of our most provocative and unsung Founding Fathers

In the summer of 1776, 56 men put their quills to a dangerous document they called the Declaration of Independence. Among them was a 30-year-old doctor named Benjamin Rush. One of the youngest signatories, he was also, among stiff competition, one of the most visionary.  

From improbable beginnings as the son of a Philadelphia blacksmith, Rush grew into an internationally renowned writer, reformer, and medical pioneer who touched virtually every page in the story of the nation's founding. He was Franklin's protégée, the editor of Common Sense, and Washington’s surgeon general. He was a fierce progressive agitator - a vocal opponent of slavery and prejudice by race, religion, or gender, a champion of public education - even as his convictions threatened his name and career, time and again. He was a confidant and often the physician of America’s first leaders; he brokered the twilight peace between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. As a doctor, he became “the American Hippocrates” whose brilliant, humane insights and institutional reforms revolutionized the understanding and treatment of mental illness in ways that still reverberate.  

Like the greatest Revolutionary minds, Dr. Benjamin Rush recognized that 1776 was only the beginning of the American experiment. Rush brings new drama to his singular life and towering legacy, finally installing him in the pantheon of our wisest and boldest Founding Fathers.

©2018 Stephen Fried (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Benjamin Rush is best known as the founding father the more famous founders wrote to. Stephen Fried, in this fascinating biography, shows us why we need to reconsider, and pay more attention to a man whose talents rivaled Franklin’s, opinions equaled Adams’s, and facility with language approached Jefferson’s.” (H.W. Brands, author of The First American and Heirs of the Founders)

“The best books are full of surprises. Rush has more of them than any historical biography I have read in ages. It is vast and sumptuous and brings to life Founding Father Benjamin Rush in full technicolor. Too long ignored, Rush’s varied and mercurial brilliance puts him smack in the company of such figures as Adams and Jefferson and Washington and Hamilton with one exception: He is more interesting than any of them. He revolutionized medicine. He revolutionized healthcare. He revolutionized life. Fried draws it all out with his usual perfect pitch of reportage and writing. What a grand feast and feat.” (Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and A Prayer for the City)
 

"An important and fascinating account of a relatively neglected yet critical Founding Father.  Benjamin Rush - Surgeon General of the Continental Army, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Jefferson's choice for medical advisor to the Lewis and Clark Expedition - is also acknowledged as the Father of American Psychiatry for his study and treatment of the mentally ill. Stephen Fried brings to life Rush's extraordinary political and medical contributions, as well as the times in which he lived." (Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    37
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    37
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    36
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sandra L.
  • Kirkland, WA United States
  • 09-27-18

The narration problem can be corrected

I'm only partway through this book, but I wanted to share my solution to the weird slow-speech and pauses. I had listened to another biography read by the same narrator, and that sounded fine, so I decided to try adjusting the playback speed to 1.1 (that's an option in the Audible app) and that did the trick. It seems that for some reason the publisher decided to slow down the narration. It's a shame, because they're doing a disservice to both the narrator and this (so far) excellent book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I Couldn't Listen To This Book

I listen to audio books because my work commute is an hour each way. I really wanted to hear the story about the man who did so much and got so little recognition. However, I should have listened to a sample of the book before committing to buy the audio book.

The narrator spoke S O S L O W. It was so unnatural the way the narrator slowly spoke, and there was an unnatural pause between each work; I risked falling asleep. I couldn't even hear what was being said because I focused on how it was being said. I simply couldn't listen to the book for more than two minutes and I'm sorry I paid for it.

Rex

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

What did I just read?

I almost never bother to write reviews, but this book was so innane and pointless, I thought a warning was appropriate. I love history and I love biographies, even biographies about relatively inconsequential figures; however, I am genuinely left wondering what the point of this book was other then to remind us there were "founding fathers" we know less about than others. I can only assume the author's thesis is contained in the lengthy title - that Rush is a visionary and key founding father. The problem is, I read basically nothing to suggest that is in any way accurate. I expected this book to explain WHY Rush was such a "visionary" and important founding father. What I got was neither. Evidently, Rush had two enduring legacies: he seemed compassionate about mental illness while not understanding it at all and loved to "bleed" patients in a misguided and wholly ineffectual attempt to cure all illnesses - including mental illness. While the first is admirable, the book itself seems to acknowledge other doctors around the same time in Europe were also growing more compassionate making Rush's compassion comendable, but not visionary. The second, his love of bleeding, makes him sound like a medieval quack. Tellingly, Rush's own colleagues AT THE TIME seem to agree his methods were well intentioned, but dangerous and possibly lethal. Does that sound visionary to you? It sounds like a character out of a Monty Python movie to me. As for his contribution to the revolution, he seems to have thought it a good idea (as did mant), signed a few documents and then was pushed out of office because he couldn't get along with anyone and, hilariously, was tangentially related you a plot to replace George Washington at the height of the war. He couldn't even get elected to Congress in for own state. What a founder! What instincts! It's amazing he's not as well known as Thomas Jefferson. Oh, and he was anti-slavery, except for the slave he kept for a few decades. I guess that's... Progressive? The truth is, there's nothing remarkable about Benjamin Rush other than his proximity to the great names of the American revolution and his utter lack of tact. A friend writing to tell him he was more important than Benjamin Franklin does not make it so. I guess there's a reason some founders are better known than others. Perhaps Rush really is a great man forgotten by history, but if he is, this book did nothing but confirm, for me, he was a mildly paternal racist quack who was absolutely a product of his times and not a visionary of them. It was like reading a book about a secretary of agriculture that promises to explain how he was integral in winning World War II only to find out he was a private in the army, was dishonorably discharged and then was... A secretary of agriculture who thought plants needed more Gatorade to grow. Sure, that book might be interesting, but as a plot to a comedy - not a thesis for a forgotten great man.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Eye Opening & Enjoyable Book

Though I say “book” in the summary above, I listened to the Audible edition.

This book is an incredible narrative on many fronts. Never having even heard the name of Benjamin Rush, the book caught my attention. Having finished the book, all I can ask is “Why hasn’t this man’s life, his importance to the founding of out nation, and his contribution to medicine in the US, not been a part of every history class covering the American Revolution and it’s aftermath?”

If you want to know more about the men & women that made significant contributions to the founding of our nation, read this book (or listen to it). You will also learn about of the less attractive words & actions that politicians continue to (sadly) emulate to this day.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Terri
  • Boyds, MD, United States
  • 03-07-19

Fascinating Biography

I have always been fascinated by Benjamin Rush since his letters are mentioned often in the biographies of John & Abigail Adams. He is indeed a forgotten Founder who needs more recognition.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

RUSH

Great read and will make you wonder aloud why he isn't more famous! He should be revived for the advancement of medicine for all as one of his last directives to his MD Son, "be indulgent to the poor!"