The Founding Fathers wrote a corpus of material so vast that several collected-works projects now in operation have kept their scholars employed for decades
. No general-interest reader has that kind of time, so historian-editor Dunn offers this manageable selection from the writings of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, John Adams, and Madison. She excludes Franklin, without explanation. A preface by highly popular biographer Joseph Ellis speculates about the upsurge of popular interest in these figures, while Dunn's introductions summarize their political inclinations (e.g., Hamilton's toward aggrandizing government, Jefferson's toward restraining it). Otherwise, each document is unmediated, compelling a reader into an independent mind-set that considers why the correspondent (most selections are letters) is taking up the quill. To socialize, to transmit intelligence, to philosophize, to justify--this spectrum of reasons, and the reflections they shed on the writer's character, times, and matter of the moment, lends vivacity to this volume. American history browsers will be pleased with Dunn's choices, which cover the Founders' famous writings but whose heart is in presenting their private communications. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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About the Author
Susan Dunn is Professor of Humanities at Williams College. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Something That Will Surprise the World: The Essential Writings of the Founding Fathers; and Jefferson’s Second