Review: Founding Brothers

If you haven’t read any of Joseph Ellis’s history writing, but think you might like it, Founding Brothers is a good book to try.  It’s shorter than his biographies of Adams, Jefferson, or Washington, but showcases his techniques and insights well.

Ellis has an eye for the illuminating historical moment that focuses attention on a figure’s strengths and weaknesses, and can use that moment as a jumping off point to lead the reader through the tangle of history that brought them to it.  It’s an interesting and effective technique.  Brothers showcases it to good effect.

His scholarship and writing bring the facts of the situation to the reader clearly, and his informed speculation breathes life into the proceedings.  He makes an excellent tour guide to the early days of America.


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