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Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers Paperback


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Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers + The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment + The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742556247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742556249
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The conciseness and liveliness with which Richard reviews the ancient histories make his book a useful resource for all. Recommended. (CHOICE)

[An] engaging account of what the founding generation knew about the classical world. . . . This book is well worth owning. Beyond showing what kind of education the Founders had and sketching out how it shaped their own accomplishments, it serves as an introduction to the kind of education that most of us have missed out on—and reminds us that it's never too late to get started. (Human Events)

Renowned classicist Carl J. Richard . . . delves into the lessons of history that the Founders leaned upon. . . . A necessary reminder of where to look if one seeks the deepest roots of American liberty. (New American)

Carl Richard has given us another engaging and lucid glimpse into the rich and fascinating classical world of America's founding generation. With his thorough knowledge of both the classical past and how men in the eighteenth century understood it, Richard is able to show a broad audience of modern readers—who themselves may know little about the classical world—why ancient Greece and Rome have so long attracted Americans like a magnet. (Caroline Winterer, Stanford University)

Carl Richard has written a book that is as entertaining as it is informative. He brings the words and world of the Greek and Roman ancients to life with the same passion and understanding that kindled the Founding Fathers. Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the moral and intellectual sources that inspired the founders and helped define the ideals of American democracy. (Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion)

I have read Carl Richard's Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts with great pleasure. This is superb work. Historians of the American founding have long known that the founders were powerfully influenced by the ancient writers, but in the absence of long and tedious labors have not known enough about the subject to make their own studies complete. Richard has performed those labors for us and presented his findings in a way that is both crisply written and richly informative. (Forrest McDonald, University of Alabama; author of We the People)

Review

I have read Carl Richard's Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts with great pleasure. This is superb work. Historians of the American founding have long known that the founders were powerfully influenced by the ancient writers, but in the absence of long and tedious labors have not known enough about the subject to make their own studies complete. Richard has performed those labors for us, and presented his findings in a way that is both crisply written and richly informative. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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This quick and delightful read is highly recommended.
DWD's Reviews
I don't read very much non-fiction, but I will read this book because my husband says it's worth every minute.
Hannah Wilson
These sketches help the reader to better understand those ancients who so profoundly influenced our founders.
Jeffrey A. Winkler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So, if it was not quite what I thought it was, what is it?

"Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts" is a very succinct, well-written and entertaining history of the Ancient Greeks and the Romans with a little commentary at the end of each section about how these histories influenced the Founding Fathers. For example, he has seven pages on a history of the Spartans (probably the best short explanation of the Spartans I have ever read) and two pages about the lessons learned. There are 13 pages on the Persian Wars and just one page about the lesson learned.

This book does fill a serious gap in our education nowadays. Unfortunately, in the world of education, it is not uncommon to think of Western history as not important to our lives ("Hey! Ho! Western culture's got to go!" - Stanford protesters in 1988). But, this book demonstrates that the Greek and Romans histories were the foundational documents for the American experiment in self-government. They provided the examples of what worked, what did not work and the pitfalls and dangers of the operation of a republic. Sadly, you will find much more in modern textbooks about the supposedly extensive influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on the Founding Fathers than you will find about the extensive and pervasive influences of Cicero, Cato, the experiences of Athens and the Roman Republic.

The author, Richard, notes in his last sentence: "Perhaps it is time to learn whatever lessons the ancients can teach the twenty-first century." (p. 181)

Amen to that.

This quick and delightful read is highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers is the book I wish I had read several years ago while in college. It is a very short and easy read, but shows the importance of ancient history to America's Founding Fathers. It is essentially a "dumbed down" and popularized version of Carl Richard's The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment, a longer and more academic work.

Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers proceeds to tell the story of the ancient world, from the Grecco-Persian War to the Roman Empire. Each chapter deals with a different period of history. Richard ends the chapter with a brief discussion of the "lessons" the American Founding Fathers drew from this history. He provides copious examples of the American Founding Fathers drawing inspiration from the ancient sources and debating the meaning of history. For example, they saw in Plato's writings and the Roman Republic as the ideal form of mixed government, combining the rule of the one leader (Consuls), rule of the aristocrats (Senate), and the rule of the people (Tribunes). They believed this system accounted for the Roman Republic's success by not going to the extremes of tyranny (one-man despotism), oligarchy (corrupt rule by the wealthy), and ochlocracy (mob rule).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey A. Winkler on November 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There are some books that just need to be written, and Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts, by Carl J. Richard, fits quite nicely into that category. Any person interested in the founding period of the United States will find Mr. Richard's effort to be an indispensible reference as to the influence ancient Greece and Rome exerted on the minds of those who founded our nation. Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts serves the additional purpose of giving the reader an informative outline of the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman civilizations. It discusses in detail those ancients who not only made the history of those societies, but those who also recorded and commented on that history. One cannot read of our country's founding without noting numerous references to these ancients peppering the letters and documents of those men given credit for that founding. Mr. Richards ties together, in a very scholarly work, the close association between the Greeks and Romans, and the founding fathers.

Mr. Richard begins his book by exposing the reader to those Greek and Roman historians, and orators who provided the sources of reference for men such as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington. Brief biographical sketches are provided for historians such as Herodotus and Tacitus and orators such as Demosthenes and Cicero. These sketches help the reader to better understand those ancients who so profoundly influenced our founders. The book then moves on to a sectionalized exploration of the beginning and ending of each ancient civilization. At the end of each section, Richard discusses how the history relating to those events was revealed by the ancients and what lessons were gleaned by the founders based on those revelations.
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