Founding Brothers Review
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On occasion, Iíve found a really good book because of an assignment in one of my literature classes and you could say that that sort of thing is to be expected. (Thatís how I found Tim OíBrien after all.) Who would dare to think that I would find a great novel in a class on the American Revolution? Thatís exactly what Joseph J. Ellis created in Founding Brothers.

Itís a book, almost a novel really, set in the 1790ís. That particular decade proved to be probably the most important in the history of our nation simply because so much was taking place. It was a new country, with a new Constitution that left many questions as to how the country was supposed to function unanswered. On the hard issues it either passed them off to the next generation (slavery), or handed it down to the states (a standing militia and taxes). Many of the smarter people of the time thought it was a blueprint for failure.

Instead of trying to give the reader every detail of every event that occurred in the decade, Ellis picks five events that were central to the development of the nation; the duel between Burr and Hamilton, the Jefferson dinner with Hamilton and Madison at which it was decided to locate the Capitol on the Potomac, the refusal of the Founding Fathers to deal with the slavery issue, Washington's Farewell Address, the polar opposites Adams and Jefferson and their eventual friendship.

The six chapters read more like connected short stories than historical documents. Each is well crafted and pulls the reader through the 248 pages of the book as if the reader were tied to a sled flying down hill. Each bump and turn is full of drama and excitement even though the ending of the story is never in doubt. If all history was written this well there would never be a desire to cut class.

If you are looking for a primer on the creation of America, this is it.

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