It is the circumstances and the characters of the founding “brothers,” their ideological as well as personal conflicts that created the US as a nation. SUMMARY Here is a presentation of US History—the creation of a new nation that does not attempt to consolidate events into a general account that suggests the inevitability of the Declaration of Independence but examines history in light of a handful of episodes involving central personages, their passions and conflicts that reveal as much of the creation of the nation after the Constitutional Convention.
At one end were the Federalists including Washington, Hamilton and Adams who believed that revolution was a necessary step in order to build US nationhood as embodied by the newly established federal government. On the other were the Republicans including Jefferson and Madison who saw revolution in its liberating character, holding the Declaration of Independence as most sacred, in contrast to the Federalists who consider the Constitution most dear. At that time, there was no notion of valid opposition. Both sides thought about the other’s position as treasonable.
These are the circumstances that surround the duel between Hamilton and Barr, which led to the former’s death and cost the latter’s political career. These are the circumstances that led to Washington’s non-acceptance of a third term as well as Jefferson’s treacherous vilification of his friend, John Adams. This high level of political tension led to the compromise in 1790 to appease the Southern states, as a result of fear of the states’ secession (despite both parties’ belief that slavery was inconsistent with the principles embodied by the Revolution).
In all stages of these events, the characters were aware of that they were in fact, making history. BOOK REVIEWS 1. In Bobrick’s (2000) review of the Founding Brothers, he compared the Ellis’ style to Lytton Strachey, the author of Eminent Victorians. But according to him, Ellis was different in a way that the latter never veered towards making a caricature of the characters. He described the book as “splendid… humane, learned, written with flair and radiant with a calm intelligence and wit.
” He also guaranteed that even those who are familiar with the “revolutionary generation” will find the book to be both captivating and enlightening of the first years of America as a nation. 2. Meanwhile, Hodgson (2002) said that Ellis’ method made possible the retention by general readers of their interest in a highly-intelligent discussion of 18th century politics. He thinks that The Founding Brothers is one of those rare books/analyses that can be read for pleasure. But despite these comments, he also notes that Ellis’ work suffers the characteristics of “American Exceptionalism” and failing to acknowledge Britain’s version of history.
The Independent, where Hodgson’s review was published is a British newspaper. REACTION TO BOOK REVIEWS There is nothing surprising about the positive reviews gained by The Founding Brothers. After all, with the pervasiveness of the linear or historiographic approach, there is no doubt that the book’s manner of presentation can be characterized as a breath of fresh air. Ellis’ novel approach enabled him to indirectly give a general and probably in many ways, different accounts of history by being able to pick only six of all specific stories that could have contributed to history.
This indicates not only deep knowledge of the personal lives of some characters as some reviewers point out, but also indicates a deep insight of what transpired in history as well as what as its implications and consequences. While it is true that Ellis was able to make the book more interesting to the general readers, it is arguable that the book’s “indifferent” to others’ version of history is an issue. Ellis does not claim to represent to be a version of other nations’ histories or any nation’s history for that matter.
At best, what Ellis book attempts to represent is his own interpretation of history considering everything that he studied, and analyzed both as writer, researcher and historian. ENLIGHTENING Interpretations of history can be different depending on the manner of its presentation. In schools, and even in colleges, these founders are usually depicted as saints, sometimes even to the point of idolatry. Ellis presentation of these founders is an attempt to humanize them in the minds of the readers.
In the end, they are not depicted purely as models of idealism, motivated by pure goodwill and love for the country, but as politicians who regardless of their real motives are affected by conflicting circumstances, and sometimes real ambition. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT The book is already enjoyable as it is despite whatever flaws it may have. One reviewer notes the fact that some point of views, particularly those of the British were not taken into account. The writer personally do not think that such alteration, or any alteration for that matter would be necessary to cause a significant change on the effect that the book had to the readers.
References Bobrick, B. (2000). The Brethren. New York Times Online. Retrieved 28 April 2009 from http://www. nytimes. com/books/00/12/10/reviews/001210. 10bobrict. html? scp=1&sq=founding%20brothers%20review%20ellis&st=cse. Ellis, J. (2001). Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Alfred Knopf: New York. Hodgson, G. (2002). The Apostles of the US Brought to Life. The Independent Online. Retrieved 28 Apriil 2009 from http://www. independent. co. uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/founding-brothers–the-revolutionary-generation-by-joseph-j-ellis-750973. html.