Founding Brothers


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About the Author

JOSEPH J. ELLIS is the author of many works of American history including Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; and American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, which won the National Book Award. He recently retired from his position as the Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife and their youngest son.


Ellis holds the Ford Foundation Chair in American History at Mount Holyoke College and is the author of American Sphinx (1997), a National Book Award-winning study of Thomas Jefferson. His new book contains six chapters on unconnected events in the formation of the American republic, featuring Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and George Washington as principal characters. Ellis is deeply steeped in the literature, and his style is crisp and full of subtle ironies. He brings fresh insights into such well-worn topics as the Hamilton-Burr duel and Jefferson's feelings about slavery. If there is a central theme that runs through the chapters, it concerns the fragility of the early years of the republic. Ellis calls the 1790s one long shouting match between those, like Hamilton, who championed the power of the central government and those, like Jefferson, who defended the rights of states and individuals. The question of slavery was so explosive that most Founding Fathers avoided discussing it at all. Ellis clearly admires the irascible John Adams. Perhaps surprisingly from the author of American Sphinx, however, the Founding Father who comes off least well here is Jefferson himself. Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/00.]DT.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Founding Brothers is a wonderful book, one of the best ... on the Founders ever written.... Ellis has established himself as the Founders' historian for our time." -Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books

"Vivid and unforgettable ... [an] enduring achievement." -The Boston Globe

"A splendid book-humane, learned, written with flair and radiant with a calm intelligence and wit." -The New York Times Book Review

"Lively and illuminating ... leaves the reader with a visceral sense of a formative era in American life." -The New York Times

"Masterful.... Fascinating.... Ellis is an elegant stylist.... [He] captures the passion the founders brought to the revolutionary project... [A] very fine book." -Chicago Tribune

"Learned, exceedingly well-written, and perceptive." -The Oregonian

"Lucid.... Ellis has such command of the subject matter that it feels fresh, particularly as he segues from psychological to political, even to physical analysis.... Ellis's storytelling helps us more fully hear the Brothers' voices." -Business Week

"Splendid.... Revealing.... An extraordinary book. Its insightful conclusions rest on extensive research, and its author's writing is vigorous and lucid." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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