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The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution Hardcover – June 13, 2013
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“David Lefer has done a wonderful service by focusing attention on the conservatives among our founders, such as John Dickinson. In doing so, he shows that American conservatism has deep historical roots and that some of today’s ideological disputes were being waged in the early days of our republic. The lessons he draws are relevant not just to conservatives but to all Americans.”
—WALTER ISAACSON, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin
“David Lefer’s The Founding Conservatives is a tirelessly researched and superbly written account of how America’s first conservatives endowed our revolution with ballast and vision, often in surprising ways that resonate to this day. A timely reminder that extremism in the defense of liberty is no virtue, moderation in the pursuit of justice no vice.”
—KEVIN BAKER, author of America: The Story of Us
“David Lefer has done a civic service in unearthing a largely forgotten group of revolutionary patriots who not only played key roles in achieving American independence but, in advance of Burke and the French Revolution, laid the groundwork for a distinctively New World version of conservatism.”
—FRED SIEGEL, author of The Prince of the City; senior fellow, Manhattan Institute
“This lively, erudite book frees the founders from currently popular anachronistic categorizations and in the process provides a fresh new perspective on American conservatism. That there is something in this book to annoy just about everyone is its great and inestimable virtue.”
—SUSAN JACOBY, author of Freethinkers
“As a historian, David Lefer is a terrific storyteller. The Founding Conservatives takes us on a fun and unique ride through the birth of the United States while building a case for the real DNA of American conservatism.”
—KEVIN MANEY, author of The Maverick and His Machine
“A compelling argument for a new appreciation of America’s founding conservatives. Lefer shows how these men, far from obstructing change or opposing the Revolution, sought to channel and direct our nation’s development so it could succeed for centuries to come. This book reminds us that conservatives have never been the ‘party of no’ but rather the voice of reason and an idealism tempered by the practical.”
—LARRY SCHWEIKART, coauthor of A Patriot’s History of the Modern World, vols. 1 and 2
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Top Customer Reviews
As a political scientist with an undergraduate degree in history, I applaud this insightful new book. Two chapters are particularly useful: Chapter 1, "Crown and Country, pellucidly traces the early evolution of conservative and liberal traditions through 17th and 18th Century British politics; Chapter 24, "We the People," provides the clearest analysis of the framers' intentions in drafting successive versions of the Constitution I've seen--newly valuable material essential to any national debate on the meaning of our foundational document. The texts that accompany the carefully researched illustrations are apt and enlightening.
A timely and engaging book--and not to be missed.
The collection of characters who happen to be critical to historians makes for a fun book and a lot of intelligent insight. It's a truly fascinating and unlikely set of stories that entertain and happen to be true. The book is well crafted and makes their patriotism interesting and as relevant to our time and our thinking about current issues as it was to their tension filled day to day lives.
The story carried me through as much jeopardy as any of the best action packed stories of today. I suggest you look into this remarkable book - the writing is elegant, the characters unexpectedly real and the story is amazing.
1. Story: although the American Revolution seems familiar, Lefer tells terrific stories of lesser-known figures and episodes that shaped the Revolution, that are as dramatic and as moving as much the better-known turning points (Valley Forge, etc.). The events and commentary by the participants themselves are woven together with pace, insight, and emotion, while balanced by an overall perspective and narrative.
2. Interpretation: this is where this book is really original. Not only does Lefer identify little known figures in the American Revolution, he convincingly makes a number of strong arguments why their contributions can be considered together as conservatives, and why the American contribution to conservatism was crucial.
3. Scholarship: Lefer deftly describes past historical work, and explains clearly how this scholarship has shaped our current views of the Revolution and Founding Fathers.
4. Relevance: Lefer throughout the book draws comparisons between our modern partisan battles and the debates of the past. In this sense, I found the book quite fair and optimistic in its outlook, because these past examples show that it is possible for principled disagreement and political debate to lead to practical compromises that were often better solutions than what was suggested by either extreme.
A great book that has sent me off to read more about this period, and one that I plan to read again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Plenty of interesting information on how our founding fathers debated, even fought, to come to the right solution for American government. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tom Finan
I have read only a bit of US History but this book inspired me to read more. I like how the book focuses on a specific, small list of people (Founding Conservatives) and helps you... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Karen Fukuma
Just finished it! My bang-for-buck is that given the multitude of information in this book, it should be used as a compulsory elementary education text through middle school with... Read morePublished 9 months ago by jon-paul schilling
I haven't read revolutionary-war history since high school, and don't recall ever being excited about the topic in school, and so I was surprised to be hooked by the first page. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Rsw
Excellent book!! Extensively researched, very educational, well written and easy to read. Recommended reading for anyone. David Lefer has done an outstanding work.Published 12 months ago by Erica Bae
So bias left and so sly about this fact. Only recommended to those who can think for them selves and separate wheat from chaffPublished 15 months ago by Wayne
Great review of the founding fathers. It's a quick read and an excellent review of the sacrifices made to secure our freedoms.Published 17 months ago by Stan Crader