Revolutionary Characters offers a series of brilliantly illuminating studies of the men who came to be known as the founding fathers. Each life is considered in the round, but the thread that binds the work together and gives it the cumulative power of a revelation is this idea of character as a lived reality for these men. For these were men, Gordon Wood shows, who took the matter of character very, very seriously. They were the first generation in history that was self-consciously self-made, men who understood the arc of lives, as of nations, as being one of moral progress. They saw themselves as comprising the world's first true meritocracy, a natural aristocracy as opposed to the decadent Old World aristocracy of inherited wealth and station.Gordon Wood's wondrous accomplishment here is to bring these men and their times down to earth and within our reach, showing us just who they were and what drove them. In so doing, he shows us that although a lot has changed in two hundred years, to an amazing degree the virtues these founders defined for themselves are the virtues we aspire to still.
In this brilliantly illuminating group portrait of the men who came to be known as the Founding Fathers, the incomparable Gordon Wood has written a book that seriously asks, ?What made these men great???and shows us, among many other things, just how much character did in fact matter. The life of each?Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, Paine?is presented individually as well as collectively, but the thread that binds these portraits together is the idea of character as a lived reality. They were members of the first generation in history that was self-consciously self-made?men who understood that the arc of lives, as of nations, is one of moral progress.
Gordon S. Wood is the Alva O. Way University Professor and professor of history at Brown University. He is the author of, among others, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Emerson Prize. Wood contributes regularly to the New Republic and the New York Review of Books.
Elegant . . . absorbing . . . from one of our leading scholars of the American Revolution. (The Washington Post Book World)
Shrewdly argued . . . powerful. (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
Illuminating . . . poignant. (Jon Meacham, The New York Times Book Review)
If we can't turn back the clock, at least we can enjoy a master historian's refreshing reassessment of seven men whose legacies live on. . . . It has the integrity and, yes, the eccentricity of the Founders it celebrates. (The Weekly Standard)
Of those writing about the founding fathers, [Gordon Wood] is quite simply the best. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
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