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on June 29, 2009
Brion McClanahan has written a gem of a book with The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers. Here we get a sense of what the founding generation was really like and what they really believed and did, not the sensational, trivial and silly portrayals that we so often get from non-academic sources such as the History Channel and PBS. As for the academics who write on the Founders, far too many come to their subject with veiled (and some not so thinly veiled) agendas that it is difficult to know who exactly these men were. The great virtue of McClanahan's guide is that it is rooted in that which all good and true history is grounded, the primary sources. As McClanahan himself asserts, if you want to know what the Founders really thought, then simply read what they wrote. When you do, as McClanahan has done, you truly do find a generation of brilliant men who believed in liberty and were willing to fight to secure it.

The book is divided into two parts with the first touching on several contemporary myths about the Founders. Here you will find excellent dismissals of the myths surrounding the Founding generation's supposed egalitarianism and support for democracy. McClanahan demonstrates what any honest and knowledgeable historian of the period knows; the Founders did not believe in equality as it is presently conceived and they certainly were not unreserved advocates for democratic government. In doing this McClanahan reminds us that the Founders created a Federal Republic, not a mass, egalitarian democracy, and an appreciation of the differences between these forms of government is an essential starting point to understanding the history of the early American Republic.

Other myths exposed include Benjamin Franklin's legendary brood of illegitimate children, Alexander Hamilton's homosexuality and George Washington's alleged affair with Sally Fairfax, his neighbor's wife. And, of course, what expose' of founding myths would be complete without a discussion of Thomas Jefferson's supposed affair with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, the evidence for which is circumstantial and inconclusive although it is often asserted as fact these days.

McClanahan also does an excellent job of demonstrating just how conservative the American Revolution actually was in that American Patriots were not asserting radical new doctrines inspired by Enlightenment philosophers but principles grounded in the traditions of English liberty and American colonial experience. This was the key feature of the American Revolution and why it differed so remarkably from that of the French.

Also on offer are brief but thought-provoking discussions of several important contemporary issues like gun control, the role of religion in American life, federalism, and monetary policy, all in relation to what the Founders would have thought about these issues if they were alive today.

As good as the first part of the book is, however, the best is probably the brief biographical sketches of the Founding Fathers themselves. The "Big Six" are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. McClanahan delves into each man's life with an eye to expose the modern, presentistic mythology that has encased these men in the popular imagination, and we find that while the names are familiar much of who these men really were has been lost or willfully forgotten. McClanahan uncovers them for everyone to see.

In addition to the "Big Six," McClanahan rediscovers 14 "forgotten founders" that every American should know about. These include names such as Elbridge Gerry, from whom we get the term "gerrymander," the great partisan warrior Francis Marion, inspiration of Mel Gibson's The Patriot and John Taylor of Caroline. We are also treated to very iconoclastic and revealing reappraisal of John Marshall as both a member of the Founding generation and early American jurist.

In all, this is an outstanding introduction to the Founders, one that is an antidote to the indoctrination so many Americans receive in school and the popular media when the topic is the beginnings of the United States. It is highly recommended and makes for the perfect gift for yourself or someone with a yearning to know more about the Founding Fathers.
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VINE VOICEon July 16, 2009
This is a truly wonderful book. It answers some of the many questions I had about what my three children were learning about American History during their six years studying in Boston Latin School. Living in the heart of historic Boston, I was constantly being stunned and amazed that my children didn't know who the various statues in their neighborhood honored. They had grown up riding their Big Wheels and bicycles around some of these bronze statues of famous Americans without having the faintest idea of each statue's identity. All three could tell me who Harriet Tubman was, but none could tell me exactly why Paul Revere, Sam Adams and John Hancock were famous. They did recognize two of the names--one was a well-known beer and the other was the name of Back Bay Boston's tallest building.
For all those fans of the Jay Leno television Walking Tours who were constantly shocked of the level of ignorance in the general public as demonstrated by his perfectly normal appearing tourists that Jay asked simple questions to at "Universal City," this book answers many of the questions that none of Jay's clueless average American tourists could answer even after he gave them clues. You know, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb" or "Who is Washington D.C. named after?" This book is a long overdue correction of the media and educational record. The honor of the title of the "Greatest Generation" belongs to "the Founders, the men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of liberty and independence...The Founding generation has no equal, and it deserves to be rescued from politically correct textbooks, teachers, and professors who want to dismiss the Founder as cadre of dead, white, sexist, slave-holding males."
"De-emphasizing, or disparaging, men like Washington, Jefferson, and Henry serves a purpose. It is meant to sever our attachment to, and our respect for, the Founders and their principles and to replace them with the Left's own ideal of a living' Constitution that better reflects our increasing diverse nation and the interests..."
"The irony is that the Founders had a better understanding of the problems we face today than do our own members of Congress." This book will help explain why all of this is true and why the myths and falsehoods about the Founding Fathers have purposely been perpetrated by the educational system and the liberal media.
This volume tries to correct these myths such as the Founders "created a democracy." They created a republic and greatly feared a pure democracy. In addition to correcting the widely held myths, the first part of the book also explains "A Conservative Revolution" that is what "The Declaration of Independence," "The U.S. Constitution" together with its "Bill of Rights" really was. The third section of the book's First Part spells out the issues facing us today, but that were foreseen by the Founders and how they devised a way to handle them centuries into the future.
Part II gives great biographical sketches of the "The Big Six" of the Founding Fathers--Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Franklin. It then discusses several of the almost completely forgotten and ignored Founders--Adams, Carroll, Clinton (George not our Bill), Hancock and others most Americans have never heard have. The conclusion of the book is entitled "What the Founding Fathers Would Do" if they were here now. That includes radical ideas such as "Follow the Constitution," "Cut Federal Spending and Reduce the Public Debt," "Eliminate Taxes...," "Reassert State Control over State Issues," and "Preserve the Bill of Rights." The book also explains why the author can say this without actually having spoken to the individual "Founders." It is possible to read and study their own thoughts and words on all these subjects and to then study their actions. Unlike today, the Founders seldom said one thing and then did exactly the opposite. And because of their personal experiences, they predicted many of the current problems facing American and tried to set up a system to avoid, or later, correct them. The book includes a excellent index and bibliography to help the reader double-check anything he might find difficult to believe or understand.
While this review may seem too much like an outline, the book is actually quite fascinating, especially the biographies and the events surrounding the people in those biographical portraits. This is what is never taught in American Schools anymore. This is why Americans are so ignorant of what their government is doing to them. This is why they don't know how to correct what their elected, and now many non-elected and unanswerable officials are doing to them. This book should be required reading in every high school and college in America. It's pretty interesting and even the students in our poorest public schools could comprehend it. After all, one of the few good results of all the texting, tweeting, computering going on today is that the users have to both read and write. The social websites are helping to correct the deficits in learning to read, write and understand that aren't being taught in most American schools. They are actually becoming a wonderful media that opens the whole world to the users of these personal communication devices.
This book is the latest in a series of "Politically Incorrect Guides" and for people who wish to better understand Capitalism and The Great Depression and the New Deal, and other important subjects, these guides are a wonderful starting point.
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on March 7, 2016
I love to read and this book about our founding fathers is great reading. This book should be read with the politically incorrect Guide to the American History. Both are very information. I recommend both.
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on September 11, 2009
This is a perfect resource for those seeking materials designed to educate, round out and fill in those questions about our most sacred beginnings. I've been researching this very topic for many months and McClanahan's book helped tremendously, as did the following other sources: Spaeth & Smith's Constitution of the United States, Dick Morris's 'Catastrophe', Levin's 'Liberty and Tyranny', 'Politically incorrect guide to the Constitution' and several others but hands down, Brion's book is the BEST, it's laid out the cleanest, makes the most sense, has interest stories, terrific analogies, keeps you reading, makes kids WANT to learn...it's a book that belongs in EVERY American's den..

Dr. McClanahan should be breaking down every difficult subject for Americans into 'politically incorrect' guides, he's great at it!!! this is my two cents!!

Annie Hamilton
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on July 25, 2016
This volume has much helpful information, but unfortunately it is clearly biased, which accounts for its lack of balance. McClanahan's preference for Antifederalist figures over Federalists is really extreme, sometimes to the point of being laughable. He does not even list or profile John Jay, whom Joseph Ellis in his book Quartet classes as one of the four leaders most responsible for the creation and ratification of the Constitution. He discusses at length minor figures like Nathaniel Macon and George Clinton, who did not exercise noticeable influence outside their states until after the Founding. Fisher Ames, the great orator who led in Massachusett's ratification of the Constitution, defeated Samuel Adams to represent his state in the first four Congresses, and was a leader of the Federalists during that formative period, is not even mentioned. In order to be part of this important series of books, the volume should have been much more representative of the American Founding.
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on May 7, 2014
What i liked about it was the myths it laid out and then shown why they were just myths. the setup reading about the founds was awesome.

things i didn't like stopping points to read the fun facts were far and few in between.
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on September 20, 2014
surprise surprise. Now when a politician will refer to the founding fathers, you will know that actually he/she doesnt have a clue what he/she is talking about.
These men were men of their time, no visionaries (maybe a few of them actually were) and actually most of them got exactly what they wanted to avoid.
You see the revolution not through battles or constitutions or else, but through the eyes of those who made it and what they were thinking or planing.
Then you will understand all the rest.
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on March 18, 2014
M any profess to be very knowledgeable about the intent of the founding fathers when they wrote the constitution. Readers of this book will have much more information on which to base their opinions. Read it.
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on January 3, 2015
One of the most historical books I have read in a long time. Accurate, correct, things you should know, and don't here. Parents should buy this book for their children. Easy reading, even for the youngest of readers.
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on July 14, 2014
Written from a particular political viewpoint but still interesting. The author left out perhaps the biggest influence on the country, the writer of Common Sense, Thomas Paine. Without this book the average man and woman would not have supported a revolution but Mr Paine was an atheist. Is that why he is ignored? Also, "God" was not the same concept for many of these men that we think of today. Like any history book one needs to use it with others and be careful of the political bend of the author.
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