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Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris, the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution Paperback – June 3, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Brookhiser's latest biography is of a somewhat neglected Founding Father, whose greatest accomplishment was his authorship/editorial work of much of the U.S. Constitution. Late in his life, Morris also played an invaluable, but often overlooked role in pushing the U.S. to create a system of canals linking New York State's Atlantic coast with the northern interior of North America. (These canals were, once created, as important for the young country's economic growth in the early nineteenth century as railroads would be for it in the late nineteenth century.)
For a major public figure, Morris led a balanced life. His serious pursuits did not keep him from enjoying women, travel and outings, or a well-told joke. He was a good friend, especially towards those who he felt were unfairly treated by others. As Morris would drift in and out of public service throughout his life, much of the biography focuses on this personal side of the man.
Brookhiser's skill as a biographer is to reveal aspects of his subject's character with just a well-written phrase or two. He does this in a straightforward way without the need for any conceptual baggage (such as Freudianism). Few biographers nowadays are willing to be so concise or risk interpreting their subjects in such a direct manner.
But unlike with two of his previous and better-known subjects (Washington and Hamilton), Brookhiser is perhaps too brief in dealing with Morris's life.Read more ›
Morris's career encompassed, among much else, two terms in the Continental Congress during the height of the American Revolution. His financial expertise was vital to keeping the war effort afloat until the victory at Yorktown secured American independence. He also served as America's Ambassador to France during the French Revolution, keeping a meticulous account of events as they unfolded. Much of the rest of his life was spent as a successful lawyer and financier, who occasionally enagaged in such acts of public service as championing the Erie Canal and laying out the streets of Manhattan.
All of this Brookhiser captures with his lively narrative prose. The book is a relatively quick read at just over 200 pages of narrative, and Brookhiser concentrates his efforts on those periods of Morris's life that were devoted to public service. A generous helping of illustrations are also provided. Brookhiser also avoids being too overly fawning of his subject, pointing out those ideas of Morris's that were either dangerously flawed or just plain wrong.
Overall, a fascinating biography that can be enjoyed by history buffs as well as general readers.
Morris had an astonishingly varied career. A friend of George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, and Thomas Paine, Morris was the primary architect of the U.S. Constitution. He was a successful ladies' man, enjoying a succession of lovers before finally marrying in his late 50s. An expatriate in France during the French Revolution, he advised Louis XVI and wrote a constitution for that troubled nation. A senator from New York, he opposed the War of 1812 and advocated the secession of Northern states. Back in New York, while practicing law and tending to business interests, he found time to establish Manhattan's street grids and begin work on the Erie Canal. He started a family in his early 60s. Above all, he enjoyed life.
Observers make much of the fact that as a teenager Morris sustained severe burns to his right arm and later lost part of a leg in a carriage accident, but these are arguably the least interesting things about the man.
The one black mark on an otherwise admirable record was his anti-Catholicism. Brookhiser says little about it apart from arguing that Morris, a deist, wasn't as anti-Catholic as some of his Protestant colleagues. In other words, "Morris could have been worse," the author seems to say.
This is a quick and easy read. Brookhiser writes well. Still, it's not altogether clear why the author, a senior editor at the neoconservative National Review, would want to write about someone like Morris.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The writing doesn't feel trustworthy--the author seems like he's trying to convince the reader of something. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Old dad
"To try to do Good, to avoid Evil, a little Severity for one's self, a little Indulgence for others -- this is the means to obtain some Good Result out of our poor Existence. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jimdus
Brookhiser does his usual excellent job of not only providing a portrait of an individual but puts him in the context of his time and contemporaries. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ecotraveler
As a history buff I always enjoy finding something I knew nothing about. Well written about a very intersting personPublished 15 months ago by Larry L kelly
Good book. Unfortunately there was some damage to the hard cover. It had apparently been bent. Otherwise, a good book.Published 15 months ago by Matthew Stewart
Wonderful history….. a story that seems to have been forgotten or never known, presented here in a wonderful way.Published 17 months ago by C. Young
I am an avid reader of American historical figures. I try to read several books about the same person/event to ensure an accurate depiction.Published on March 8, 2014 by Thomas Ambs
Le personnage, de même que sa biographie sont exceptionnels. Hamilton et Morris sont les grands oubliés de l' histoire américaine.Published on December 14, 2012 by Alain Nantel
I really enjoyed this book about an important founding father that I had not known much about. The author did a great job of describing Morris's large personality and the... Read morePublished on November 6, 2012 by Philly