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Signing Their Lives Away Kindle Edition

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Length: 256 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5 Up—On that immortal "Second of July," in 1776, 56 men described by King George III as daring and desperate affixed their names to the most celebrated document in American history. Or did they? With this work, Kiernan and D'Agnese present readers with astonishing individual portraits of all the signers in an attempt both to dispel some of the mythology surrounding the document as well as to establish a place in the historical discourse for those men not named Jefferson, Hancock, Franklin, or Adams. The marvelously arranged work lends itself to either straightforward reading or skipping around. The table of contents, divided by state, sparks readers' interest from the very beginning with its "the Signer who…" format, a feature that also allows great accessibility for reports and assignments. An entertaining and effective narrative of about three to five pages per individual is presented, and the full text of the document, a brief time line, and a section on the "Miscellany of Independence" are appended. Readers will delight as they discover just which signer "was the first to die," "slept in caves," "had the worst penmanship," and "went broke on shady land deals."—Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Wired, Discover, and other national publications. D’Agnese’s work has twice been included in the anthology “Best American Science Writing.” Both are winners of Educational Press Association awards. They live in North Carolina.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1726 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (August 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW7E9W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,147 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Glenda York on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To be born free is an accident.
To live free is a privilege.
To die free is a responsibility.

Brig. Gen. Robby Risner (Ret.)

As someone who appreciates living in a free country and tries not to take that for granted, I always try to read something concerning the founding fathers or that period of our history around Independence Day. This compact little book was a most enjoyable read for this year's 4th of July holiday, but it would be a good read at any time of the year really because of its simple straightforward style and humorous commentary on a particularly important subject. Most of us are well aware of the major signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. But this indispensable volume gives us biographical sketches of all 56 men who risked so much to come together and sign this crucial document that helped forge a new nation. As the book says, these are men worth knowing, and the authors do a good job filling us in on the fascinating lives these men led and the confluence of events that led them to be signatories of our nation's birth certificate. In conjunction with the publication of this book, the authors are also traveling in the footsteps of these revolutionaries by making a documentary feature and 13-part film series that examines not only their legacy, but the state of the American Dream and our own ideas about independence. So, join the revolution. Buy the book. Contribute funds to the documentary project. As the Declaration of Independence so eloquently states in its last line, they risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Shouldn't we at the very least know who these brave men were?
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Neal Thompson on July 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. We Americans often THINK we know the real stories of our past. But then, along comes a writing duo like D'Agnese-Kiernan to remind us that we only know the Cliff Notes versions, which are often missing all the good parts. Who knew, for example, that so many "criminals and crackpots" were among the signers of the most important document in the history of the United States? And who knew what strange fates awaited them after the "signed their lives away"? Now I know, and I'm grateful for the entertaining read.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Glenn M. Kaye on July 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As both a history buff and trivia expert, I was delighted with "Signing Their Lives Away"! It is fun to read, formatted in an interesting and attractive way, and uniquely informative. I was really impressed with the extent and detail of the research that went into this book. It covers many interesting aspects of American Revolutionary history that have been overlooked, or overshadowed by greater events of the period. It also dispels many myths which have been perpetuated about some of our founding fathers. Whether you are a historian, trivia nut, or just like fun books, I think this is a slam-dunk.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By TCinDC on February 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it seemed a good digest of our country's Founders. It mixes humor and sometimes a little irreverence in telling the story of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. That said, though, it has limited usefulness.

First, it should be noted that the authors -- a husband and wife team -- are not historians. That's important, because you should not assume that they did any original research or carefully checked their facts. This is not a work of historical scholarship. The authors are both journalists and writers of various genres. A big drawback to the book is that it lacks any footnotes or endnotes. They do have a bibliography at the end, but this serves no other purpose than being a potential reading list. Thus, the book makes many claims without any citation, so readers should proceed carefully.

A rather serious case of this is in the chapter on John Hancock. The book reads: "Hancock reportedly announced that he signed his name in large letters so that King George could read his signature without spectacles." A little research reveals that this is really the stuff of legend. For starters, the signed Declaration of Independence was never intended to be read by King George III, or to ever even leave the country. It was to be the official Declaration of Independence for the new country. It was not even addressed to King George. This was the only signed copy by the 56 delegates in the Continental Congress. It was an announcement to the country and the world that the colonies had declared independence from Britain and the reasons for this. In fact, the Continental Congress went to great lengths throughout the Revolutionary War to keep the Declaration OUT of the hands of the British.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By L. SCEARCY on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this because I love history - I wanted to learn more about the lesser known signers. The authors did provide some additional information on the signers that I had not known before which was nice. They however, using the modern historians (they apparently believe they deserve this label) tendency to look down on their subjects from the lofty perch of arrogance and prejudice, have chosen to treat their subjects like ignorant backwater country boys instead of the heroes that they were - and still should be. I really don't think that they have earned the right for instance to refer to George Washington as "Georgie-boy" and several of the signers as "moneybaggs". The people who risked their lives, families and fortunes to found this country deserve more respect. The authors also seemed to discount certain stories that they didn't like and substituted ones of their own - simply by preference, not by supported fact. Don't waste your money on this book like I did. Look for someone who will treat the subjects seriously and with some level of respect.
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