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Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"The best essays are small gems of exposition, providing both the context and detail necessary to enable readers to recognize the important contributions of these previously unappreciated and largely unknown individuals. . . . In short, Revolutionary Founders is one step, but only one, toward a comprehensive account of the nation’s origins." —Mary Beth Norton, The New York Times Book Review

“In these 22 provocative essays, leading historians highlight Revolutionary-era people and movements that textbooks and standard accounts skip. . . . Revolutionary Founders aims to test the parameters of what we think we know with new and reinterpreted data and fresh theories. . . . [T]hey offer challenging, surprising perspectives on the turbulent crosscurrents that shaped our nation's birth.” —American History

"[A] uniformly strong collection, [by] an impressive array of historians—among them, T.H. Breen, Eric Foner, Jill Lepore and Alan Taylor. . . . Editors Young, Nash, and Raphael have solicited wisely, with each contributor adding an important dimension to the controlling theme: ‘We cannot have too much liberty.’ Adds immeasurably to our understanding of the Revolution’s full meaning." –Kirkus Reviews

Fast-paced and readable, this remarkable book captures an American Revolution that has long been hiding in plain sight.  I emerged with a new set of heroes, a fresh appreciation for complex stories, and a new sense of our own connection to a revolutionary past." –Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies:  Women and the Obligations of Citizenship

Revolutionary Founders brilliantly restores the struggle for social equality to the central place in the history of American Revolution, and explains how the ‘spirit of leveling’ shaped the making of the new American Republic. For anyone interested in the sources of popular democracy in the United States, Revolutionary Founders is required reading." –Ira Berlin, author of The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations

Revolutions free the imagination, making many things seem possible that once were deemed wild visions. Revolutionary Founders introduces into the pantheon of the American Revolution those rebels, radicals, and reformers who passionately committed themselves to act on the conviction that ‘all men are created equal.’" –Joyce Appleby, author of The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism

About the Author

Alfred F. Young is professor emeritus of history at Northern Illinois University and was a senior research fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Gary B. Nash is professor of history emeritus and director of the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA. He lives in Pacific Palisades, California.

Ray Raphael is the author of A People’s History of the American Revolution, Founding Myths, and several other books on the nation’s founding. He lives in northern California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271105
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Ray Raphael is a Senior Research Fellow at Humboldt State University, California. His seventeen books include Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past, A People's History of the American Revolution, Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive, and most recently Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By hmf22 on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of twenty-two short essays, many by very prominent seniors scholars, on men and women who pushed the envelope on the meaning of the American Revolution, who stretched the concept of independence farther than most of Revolutionary leaders meant for it to go. Some of the essays are outstanding, not just in their content but also in their lively style; three that impressed me are those on Abigail Adams (by Woody Holton), Phillis Wheatley (by David Waldstreicher), and Thomas Paine (by Jill Lepore). Several essays address the experiences of African Americans (insightfully, with good connections to the flowering of African American community life in the early 19th century) and Native Americans (meticulously but less successfully--this topic just didn't seem to fit well with the other contents of the volume). About half of the essays focus on white men who led small-town protests of various sorts, political, religious, and journalistic. Gregory Nobles and Terry Bouton effectively integrate Shays' Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion into the larger history of "the Regulation" that began in the Carolinas in the 1760s, and their depiction of such regulations as a well-established, ongoing aspect of eighteenth-century political life is one of the most important ideas I took away from this volume. Highly recommended for readers who have a serious interest in the American Revolution; less knowledgeable readers will like some of the essays, especially those on well-known figures, but may find others too historiographically driven or simply too obscure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By fanofhistory on July 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is great social history of the war. Anyone who really wants to understand how the Revolution played out need to read this alongside the classic narratives. It really brings to life the experiences of the ordinary, forgotten people who lived and died during this period.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By gloine36 on March 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most Americans have a general idea of what the American Revolution was regardless of whether or not they understand the fine details of how it began and what followed afterwards. Few Americans know the men and women they will encounter in reading this collection of twenty-two essays penned by many of the leading historians of this period. In many ways these individuals had just as great a role in the founding of the US as the men who most consider to be Founders such as John Adams, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Although they are hardly known to the people of today, these individuals were the ones who helped start the Revolution, sustain it during the long years of combat, and determine the future direction of the new nation.

The late Alfred F. Young, esteemed historian from Northern Illinois University begins the book with an essay on Ebenezer Mackintosh, the leader of the mobs that resisted the Stamp Act in 1765 in the streets of Boston. The tone of the book is set by this essay as Young explores the role of the common people in the Revolution. Without the support of the people there would have been no Revolution and no United States created in 1776. Yet, the people were not united in their actions nor were the men who are remembered as Founders on the national and state levels. In many cases the actions of the people led those men into supporting the Revolution. Unfortunately the common men would be forgotten or marginalized by the more well known men who took over the reins of the revolutionary effort.

Men like Ebenezer Mackintosh, Timothy Bigelow, and Joseph Plumb Martin along with black men and women both free and enslaved played prominent roles in their part of the Revolution along with Native Americans.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I took a Atlantic Revolutions class with one of the authors of this book. A interesting little gem that tells stories of history from a alternative perspective. I learned a lot about how I was taught a very "fairytale" version of the American Revolutions in public school. A must read for History buffs!
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