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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
by Joseph J. Ellis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.36
513 used & new from $0.01

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Ain't Heavy, They My Brothers, December 2, 2000
The problems with most historical books aimed at the commericial market is that they tend to be longer and require more of an investment than today's average, time-zapped, "annalite"/bibleophile find profitable. Not so with this, Ellis's latest offering to the field.
Truth be told, I would have given this book 5&1/2 stars out of 6 if I could. Each one, minus 1/2, for the 6 vignettes that Ellis uses almost perfectly to make the argument named in their titles. The theses made in the titles are supposed to allow the reader to understand what Ellis argues are the defining moments in post Revolutionary American history.
I say 5&1/2 stars only because the first chapter is by far the weakest. Ellis seems to undercut the need for it with his own arguments of what happened at "the interview on the shores of Weehawken" and why it is a defining snapshot of the period, other than the fact that it ended the lives of two founding figures. Get through the first 47 pages(which are interesting--in a forensic way, if less germane philisophically than the following 5 chapters)and you will feel pleasantly vested by the remaining 201 pages.
Ellis goes onto, deliberately or not, to refute the idea that we are a nation of laws, not men. This work makes us realize that it was only these sometimes great sometimes horrid inidivduals, that all Americans trace their democratic lineage from, who were responsible for keeping the dream of democracy alive.
Ellis shows how the Constitution was still wet behind the ears and hardly ready for any title weight challenges. It was only her big brothers, who were willing to fight(or not fight)on her behalf that, allowed her to reach the point of maturity where she is today. Funny, the nation gets older but her leaders still remain seemingly juvenile.
Indeed, Ellis's revelations--and more important, his cross contextual interpretations, offer the reader a real sense of connection to individuals and ideas that, to this day, still define us as a people, yet somehow too posses that inevitable ghostly disconnect.
You will find yourself appalled by the "silences" that happened until you read today's headlines. Then Ellis's work provides great clarity. Not just that everything old is new again, rather that "the great experiment" is not over yet. While the rules of democratic science are for the most part set, his work reminds us that this game of governance is only as good as the gamesmanship of the players on the field.
Take off your red, white and blue colored glasses folks. Ellis shows that the spirits from 1776 weren't as noble as they look on the statues in statuary hall, yet most of them did prove to be as immobile as they are captured today.
One other minor critisizm. The book jacket portrays seven founders on the cover. The book really only focuses on 5 of the fathers. Burr does do a couple of cameos after chapter 1 before heading off into the sunset of historical oblivian, but Ben Franklin is only briefly euologized. I would have liked to read more about how the founding grandfather interplayed with his less than peers. Because I liked the book so much, I'll chalk that error up to some ad/design executive at Knopf who thinks they were smart enough to know that aside from George Washington, Ben Franklin is the most recognizable caricature from American Revolutionary history. Being the face of the most coveted monetary denomination will do wonders for one's image. I do hope Ellis objected to pandering Ben on the cover and helping Knopf squeeze out a few more of those bills for themselves.
Still, a great investment of 26 bucks. Keep it on your reference shelf and past it on to your friends who say they don't like to read history. Ellis's mastery creates buffs.


High Time to Kill (James Bond Adventure)
High Time to Kill (James Bond Adventure)
by Raymond Benson
Edition: Hardcover
91 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High praise for Raymond Benson's "High Time to Kill", July 25, 1999
Attempting to pen a new 007 novel is no easy trick. How many different and exotic locales has Bond not already visited? How many more super terrorist organizations are left to combat? How many new gizmos can Q-Branch invent? How many glamorous fem fatals has Bond already bedded?(80+ by my rough estimates)
Who better to answer these questions and embark on another 00-adventure than the world's leading James Bond authority, Raymond Benson. As the author of the James Bond Bedside Companion, Director of the Ian Flemming Foundation and Vice President of 007 Fan Club, no other individual has spent more time examining the life and times of one of literatures most lasting characters.
The most pleasurable of Benson's 007 novels to date(he has written two before this) relies on the fact that Benson goes back to the style of Fleming's novels instead of Broccoli's screenplays. Special effects are present but they take a backseat to the special circumstances that the novel's special characters find themselves in.
Does Benson try to reinvent the wheel with this latest installment, thankfully no. But he does make watching it almost careen off the world's third highest peak very exciting. Age old Sherpa's meet up with cutting-edge super computer chips. Badguys abound and are unceremoniously decrowned. This tour-de-force travel log takes you half way around the world and is replete with history lessons and delicous gastronomical sessions. Just about the only thing 007 doesn't do while scaling Mount Kangchenjunga is make and shake the "perfect Martini" using glacier ice cubes.(I really wish he had!)
Benson allows us to experience the human frailties of 007 along with his superhuman strengths. A new happening under Benson's authorship, female Bondophiles will appreciate that 007's stodgy, old boss "M" has been retired and replaced by a "W". As the new head of MI6, Barbara Mawdsley doesn't shower Bond with maternal affection. Indeed sensing his sexism and knowing of his treatment of women as disposable playthings, she runs him with harsh professionalism.
So high praise to Benson for mining fresh life into this seemingly exhasuted series/genre. As long as you don't set your expectations on the moon(raker, that is) you'll not only enjoy where Benson takes Bond, but you will also appreciate where he leaves you both.


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