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The Founding Fathers and the Politics of Character Paperback – January 9, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691122369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691122366
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,781,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderful blend of history and literary studies.... It is impossible for me to describe adequately the elegance with which Trees has written this work.... [I]ts chief contribution is to enhance our understanding of the politics and political thought of the 1790s." - Jan Ellen Lewis, Rutgers University, Newark "This is an immensely impressive book of unusual range and balance. Trees is as much at home dealing with the private sphere and the public, as with the personal realm and the political." - Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania"

From the Inside Flap

"A wonderful blend of history and literary studies, The Founding Fathers and the Politics of Character is a polished and significant work. Trees focuses upon perhaps the most pressing problem of politics in the 1790s: How men steeped in eighteenth-century thought, which disparaged popular politics, could find a place for themselves in the increasingly democratic political world that they themselves had brought into being. It is impossible for me to describe adequately the elegance with which Trees has written this work. While its chief contribution is to enhance our understanding of the politics and political thought of the 1790s, the book is also an extended essay on the problem of character in American politics. This, of course, is a problem of continuing interest."--Jan Ellen Lewis, Rutgers University, Newark

"This is an immensely impressive book of unusual range and balance. Trees is as much at home dealing with the private sphere and the public, the personal realm and the political. He displays a splendid facility with several genres, with biography, with ideas, and with variety of almost every kind. His judgments are sure and penetrating. Better, they are fresh, sophisticated, imaginative, and largely persuasive. Best of all, they are focused and, in the final analysis, simple and memorable. Trees has a touch that is rare among scholars: he can take material that seems essentially familiar and make it new."--Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Trees does an amazing job of providing insight into the true characters of our founding fathers, and humanizes the seemingly distant figures in a delightfully elegant fashion. This book is a true work of art! Bravo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JaMK on April 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Provides an excellent portrait of the leading personality traits of Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison and Washington and puts much needed emphasis on the significant role that perception and self-perception of character and reputation played in the formative stages of U.S. History.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Newman on January 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Some reviewers say that popular history is inevitably bad history. Dr. Trees shows that this need not be the case. The Founding Fathers and the Politics of Character combines thorough scholarship with a writing style that is accessible to the non-historian. While it would be better to have a more in-depth knowledge of the main subjects (Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison) going in than one would receive in a typical education, this is not absolutely essential. Trees does a wonderful job of getting us into the "heads" of the individuals described, showing us how their behavior flows from their mindsets (see also Freeman's Affairs of Honor, another personal favorite of mine that would serve as a excellent supplemental work). What is most interesting is how the individuals were often unable to live up to their stated aims and stances. In effect, they often flouted their own stated beliefs. Jefferson certainly engaged in a great deal of behavior that would be considered underhanded, if not treasonous, while professing his friendship. Hamilton engaged in some dishonorable behavior while promoting the concept of honor. Trees shows us these contradictions, while avoiding sermonizing or name-calling. He lets the writings of the indivdual, and the documented history, show how the contradictions stood or were explained away. It was poignant to read how the individuals described did not change with the changing times, either unable or unwilling to do so. Dr. Trees has given us required reading for every founding era buff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is, by far, the best comparative study of the founders that I have ever read. It is beautifully written and compelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Corybant on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Andrew Trees assumes the reader has a fairly in-depth knowedge of the events and important people of the Revolutionary period, so it might be difficult for someone new to the subject to grasp the context of what he writes. Trees is a ponderous writer who has some difficulty bringing life to his topic. Essentially he seems to be an academic writing for other academic types. Despite the difficulty in poring through his writing style, his analysis is fascinating. He examines the very different prisms through which four of the most important men of the period viewed the establishment of our government. I found the section on Jefferson quite difficult to follow, but that might be because Jefferson himself was filled with contradictions. The sections on Hamilton, Adams and Madison were quite scholarly in their analysis of how each man's personal beliefs drove their lives and decisions. Trees has presented a succinct analysis of the personal belief systems of these four men, how their beliefs influenced them and subsequently how they influenced the direction our young Republic took in the 1790's.
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More About the Author

My most recent work is a novel called Club Rules. It explores the inter-connected lives of several couples in a wealthy suburban town. One reader described it as Gatsby-esque--of course, that reader is my wife, so she is not an entirely trustworthy source.

I have an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American history and an M.A. in English literature. I taught for several years at a number of colleges and universities. And I have written about a wide array of subjects ranging from the founding fathers to a novel about elite private high schools. My previous book, Decoding Love, explored the latest scientific research on human attraction--everything from the role that smell plays in attraction to the dollar value economists place on a good marriage. I still appear on television occasionally to discuss the latest findings and how they might help your dating life

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