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Lamp of Experience, The Hardcover – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0865971585 ISBN-10: 0865971587

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865971587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865971585
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,249,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on January 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Weaver's famous book title Ideas Have Consequences has almost become a cliché these days, but if there's one book where the idea behind it truly applies, this one might be it. It may seem boringly circular to read a history book about the history books the founding generation read, but in fact this is an interesting and important work of intellectual history. It certainly repays reading for anyone interested in the ideas behind the American revolution.

Colburn presents a strong case that the leaders of the revolution (and the preceding generation) had a common frame of reference and a shared understanding of "the lessons of history." To that extent, it hardly matters that their understanding of the Saxon roots of English liberty has been largely discredited by more recent scholarship, as the author explains in an appendix. *They* believed it was true, and the lessons they took from it shaped their ideas about law and philosophy, as well as history. Indeed, law, philosophy, and history were all very closely interwoven to members of that generation -- far more so than they are to modern minds. It is a rare politician today who has a deep acquaintance with history (apart from sketchy conclusions regarding "the lessons of Vietnam" or "the lessons of Munich," as Jeffery Record ruefully noted in Making War, Thinking History: Munich, Vietnam, and Presidential Uses of Force from Korea to Kosovo), and rarer still one who can tease out of history a coherent philosophy of man's relation to other men and to the State.

This book isn't for everyone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By eunomius on September 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a pure jem. Colbourn presents an elegant treatment of the ideology of the Revolutionaries, with special emphasis on the role and use of history in their thought. Perhaps the most captivating pieces are those focusing specifically on John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In addition to this, he includes actual listings of books in Colonial stores and libraries. Above all, this is an invaluable study for anyone interested in this subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on July 3, 2009
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Of course, the foremost theme in this book is the huge influence that seventeenth and eighteenth century English Whig thinkers had on the leading members of American colonial society at a time when they were trying to respond to greater control exercised by the British government. Equally important to the author is the nature of the interest that these colonial elites had in English history and political philosophy, including common law. Books were most important to the colonials in this endeavor. In a rather large appendix, the holdings of both institutional (colleges) and private libraries are listed. People like Jefferson, J. Adams, and Washington owned thousands of books. Invariably one would find books by Sidney, Gordon, Locke, Rapin, Montesquieu, Macaulay, Burgh, and the like. The author does not contend that Whig philosophers directly caused colonial responses; it is rather more that their reading merely corroborated or reinforced ideas already held.

A Whig philosophical system emerged during the century-long political turmoil in seventeenth century England. Whigs were vehemently opposed to monarchial tyranny - or for that matter, so too parliamentarian tyranny. On the other hand, Tories accepted monarchial prerogatives. Whigs wanted some power to select or dismiss kings, frequent elections for parliament with well-distributed representation, and no standing armies. They hearkened back to the time before William's invasion of 1066, when the Saxons, an agrarian people, supposedly elected their king and were well represented in a parliament, as a period when a nearly ideal political system existed The coming of William in this telling introduced feudalism into England, but the Saxons were able to restore some rights through the Magna Carta of 1215.
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