Book Review: Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis

Founding Brothers, the Pulitzer-Prize winning account of the key figures of the American revolutionary period, is a magical book, and highly recommended.

Start-up entrepreneurs who are queasy about picking up a book on U.S. history might consider this: America is the world’s most successful start-up. It took a stellar management team with a compelling vision to turn an idea into a start-up into a large organization which has become the most powerful in the world.

Ellis illuminates the personalities of the great men — Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etc. It boggles the mind to think that so many extraordinary minds were together at the same time. I feel like I know each of them a little. I’ll have to check out the full biographies to get an even deeper sense of their minds and hearts.

Although Ellis was dealing with some of the most gifted rhetoricians of history, his own writing contains gems, too. It was fun to read: "Washington wanted to carve out a middle course, and do so in a moderate tone, that together pushed his most ardent critics to the fringes of the ongoing debate, where their shrill accusations, loaded language, and throbbing moral certainty could languish in the obscurity they deserved."

More compelling and beautiful than a textbook but easier to manage than strict biographies or insanely long year-by-year accounts, Founding Brothers is an awesome choice for someone wanting to dip their toes in this chapter of history.

1 comment on “Book Review: Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis
  • As an addicted U.S. History buff, I cannot agree with your assessment more.

    Joseph Ellis is the one historical writer that I recommend over and over to non-historians. I tell people all of the time that if they one to read one book to get a sense of the mindset of the American Revolutionary period then _Founding Brothers_ is the one book to read.

    Excellent review and choice, Ben.

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