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Showing 1-10 of 185 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 191 reviews
on February 2, 2017
Ledbetter has written a series of well-researched books looking at American history from a Libertarian viewpoint. This is the first volume, covering the period immediately before, during and after the establishment of the United States. Because of his unique libertarian perspective, he points out many things that have been ignored by most mainstream historians. Regardless of your viewpoint, be it conservative, original American liberal, modern liberal, or liberal.progressive, you would benefit from reading these books, especially if you can manage to do so with an open mind. Ledbetter does not claim to be a scholarly professional historian and does not supply footnotes, etc., but does identify and credit his sources, which, in my opinion, are impeccable. It is hard to argue against his many conclusions in the face of the overwhelming evidence he presents.
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on October 27, 2015
I first read Ledbetter's first two books in this series about three ago. Ledbetter has gotten me into US history. When I purchased his first two books, I wasn't paying a lot of attention and thought his work was about historical scandals and for $1.50, why not?

Ledbetter is an amateur historian and thoughtful patriotic libertarian. Politically, I am a liberal with moderate tendencies. Ledbetter has given me a lot to think about. My favorite thing about his writing his that he does an exceptional job of summarizing historical issues and individuals. He also is able to discuss the strong points of authors, historical figures and political ideologies he agrees with and disagrees with exceptional clarity. He doesn't demonize those he disagrees with or put those he agrees with on a pedestal. He is a rare individual who can advocate a position and be unbiased (as much as any human can) at the same time. His writing is conversational and appears common. Ledbetter is appropriately humble, but deceptively sophisticated in his simplicity.

I wondered after reading his lucid, compact and rational summary of hundreds of years of US and to a lesser extent British and European history if he was as insightful as he seemed. Because of this I have watched documentaries and read thousands of pages of biographies on the founding fathers. To date, even though he and I have very different political views, I have yet to disagree with any of his assessments of individuals or historical time periods.

I have never read a more useful summary of history in my life. Ledbetter is gifted characterizing sociopolitical movements, technological realities, religious, intellectual ideologies and individual personalities in well balanced, entertaining, useful and exceptionally insightful ways. In addition to this, Ledbetter seems like a truly nice guy I would love to have an extended discussion with. David McCullough, Edmund Morris, Ron Chernow are phenomenal authors (and phenomenally successful) who have written amazing biographies of US Presidents and founding fathers. I can honestly say that Mark David Ledbetter is as good as them in his own way.

Give this author a chance. If you have read the great modern biographers, you will be impressed at the ability of Ledbetter. If you want a starting point to learn a tremendous amount about the history of the USA, you can do no better. If you are a libertarian, this guy is top notch. As a liberal, I want to integrate his libertarian wisdom into my world view.

This guy is talented enough he should be famous.
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on November 25, 2015
I've held off on writing a review to get through not just the first book of the series but the second as well. I can't say enough good things about these books. The writing is excellent and the material interesting, relevant and well researched. More importantly, while I am a libertarian and so I share much common ground with the author, I truly appreciate his approach to both the material and his views. You'll never conclude the author is anything other than a libertarian but he manages to ensure all sides are well represented. I applaud his efforts to argue opposing views and I find in many cases he argues better than most partisans who actually take those positions. It's easy to say "x is wrong" and quite another to not just say why but also argue x's view and do it well! You may disagree with the authors positions but you won't feel like you're being run over or opposing views ignored. As a matter of fact, many Democrats and Republicans would do well to look at the arguments given by the author and use them! If you read these books you'll find a lot of interesting material that's well researched and factual. Even if you 100% disagree with the authors assessments you won't feel slighted and you will definitely think about your positions and the relevant facts (many or most of which this history buff was unaware of). I can't recommend these books highly enough. Well done David! I hope you write a lot more!
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America’s Forgotten History questions the standard understanding from a constitutionalist point of view of how our history is written. The Living write history, but do the victors in America’s forgotten debate really have it right? If you are reviewing the textbooks of our new history writers, the can and do rewrite it for their own purposes. If you wonder what I mean, acquire a high school US History text from the 60's and one put out in the last 5 years. Read them and don't just take some mental notes, but compare them on coverage of each episode of our United States History. It will surprise you how much revisionist history is written into today's texts and this is a disservice to our young students.
This, the first of five volumes, looks at the English Civil War, fought between Puritans and Cavaliers. It then follows Puritans as they flee Cavalier power to Massachusetts and later Cavaliers as they flee Puritan power to Virginia. Puritans and Cavaliers allied against the mercantilism of England to form a new system based on the Magna-Carta, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the English Bill of Rights, and the Enlightenment philosophy of Locke and Montesquieu.
I took the last few sentences from the book's description, so I will not claim it for my review, just as descriptive information of what is found in this book, which has information not shared in the newer textbooks of our country's history. All of this information will be there for you to compare to what is written today and if you choose to, the other more thorough texts out there in our libraries. This is a good read and as accurate as one would want history to be.
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on April 10, 2012
Mr. Ledbetter's book, America's Forgotten History, is a great book. Easy to read, fun stories, and new ideas to think about. The discussion about American's foundational history and how it was (probably) made by the ideology of the immigrants coming from England was priceless. How the Puritans set up their ideal community while the Cavilers set up theirs. These two competing ideas are still battling today. They laid the foundations for our current debate about the proper role of government in people's lives, and had a critical impact on the civil war. Mr. Ledbetter's book tells an excellent story and makes the break down between the two sides clear.

The author also covers the basis of the Revolutionary war and the War of 1812, the most important battles, the creation of the Star Spangled Banner, and a lot of other stories that bring the reader into the shot and shell of the battles of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Highly recommended for exposure to new, usually libertarian ideas, and new clues on what events really directed history. Great Book.

Update:

I have finished reading the second book Rupture, and I can report it is as good as this one. I highly recommend both books.

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on February 28, 2013
I found the book interesting and thought provoking. Ledbetter is an excellent writer who knows how to tell a good story. The story moves quickly. He provides a very broad, but often shallow, treatment of events. The “forgotten history” is not so much historical facts but how those facts have been misinterpreted by traditional historians, who Ledbetter says often got it wrong because of their political leanings.

The book is really more of a political treatise on libertarian philosophy than a solid survey of early American history. Because of the broad scope, Ledbetter had to be selective in the covered events; something he accuses traditional historians of doing. His selectivity was guided by a clear libertarian bias, which to his credit is acknowledges up front. He chose events that best support his thesis—libertarianism works better than other political ideologies. His arguments are often compelling, even when the underlying assumptions seem flawed. I found some of the interpretations of facts to not square with what I have read elsewhere, but then my other sources are traditional histories.

Citations are not give, which I consider a serious weakness. Providing citations and possibly linked notes would have strengthened the work and its arguments. I would have rated the book higher if there were citations because their absence makes me suspicious of many given assertions—it’s easy to fudge when you don’t provide supporting documentation. Ledbetter gives two rationales for not including footnotes. First, he did not yet have a “real publisher “(perhaps an economic excuse). But is not there a responsibility to the readers? Second, he says footnotes are no longer needed given the accessibility of facts and information on the web. I don’t buy this rationale. Web searches produce global information unless you know exactly what you are looking for. Many of the assertions made in the book that I would have liked to seen supporting documentation would be difficult to track down via the web. That said Ledbetter does give excellent notes on his primary sources in a narrative bibliography.

Also at the end of the book Ledbetter gives some brief “Notes on Usage,” which I found helpful. I recommend that you look at those notes before reading the book. They may relieve some discomfort for those who were educated in traditional English grammar, as were most of us.

Bottom line: I applaud Ledbetter’s efforts to tell history from a non-traditional perspective. He contributes fresh interpretations which are too often suppressed by in-vogue paradigms. Although I don’t agree with a number of his interpretations, they are interpretations that need to be considered and debated. The book is certainly worth $1.50 and I think would be enjoyed by those who are inquisitive. Libertarians will love it.
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on September 13, 2015
Interesting reading of an alternate viewpoint for a more than reasonable price. Footnotes would certainly have helped to cross-reference the information used by the author for his conclusions, but as he said you can Google the phrases and get a world of responses you can sift through yourself. That of course doesn't lend itself very well to many who prefer to have everything laid out for them to then pass judgment yea or nay if they find his conclusions unacceptable. I didn't find anything particularly shocking about anything he had written but I guess I have always been a critic of Hamilton anyway. Not that a purely Jeffersonian system would work either. Nor a religious based or an anarchist system. I think I did get a few things from it but it certainly did not alter my personal philosophy in any major way.

At only $1.50, I think you can certainly afford to read it and form your own opinion.
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on December 26, 2014
Ledbetter is a gifted storyteller who excels at illustrating how various events and persons interacted to guide American history. He includes many anecdotes that are detailed enough to be clear without getting bogged down. He writes from the perspective of a strict constructionist, which I believe is important to really understand the political issues in the infancy of the U.S. Many political leaders of each government branch carefully considered the Constitution as they considered legislation and implementation, unlike today when The Constitution is essentially an afterthought when it comes to certain issues. Even for those who believe The Constitution is up for broad interpretation should appreciate the picture Ledbetter creates of how political battles were fought on certain issues based upon individuals' and parties' interpretation of The Constitution, and how certain positions were reconciled with The Constitution. He does a tremendous job explaining the major parties' principles, and how the parties evolved to become today's Democrats and Republicans. I will undoubtedly be reading the remaining volumes.
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on January 26, 2013
It took me several days to read this book, because I didn't have a lot of uninterrupted time. But it stayed in my head when I went to bed and when I woke up. It's a terrific book with an interpretation of history that is far different from any I've read. I occasionally found myself doubting that the author had sufficient evidence to arrive at his conclusion, yet fully persuaded that his interpretation of events was at least plausible. Wondering how accurate he was about motives he ascribed to various people made the book a joy to read and made me want to search further.

One example of this is the author's brilliant retelling of the Marbury vs. Madison court case. After a review of the background information and bias of John Marshall, head of the judiciary, the author dissects the motive behind the ruling before telling what the verdict was. If you have forgotten as I had what Marbury vs. Madison was about, this retelling will thrill you so I won't spoil it here. I'm certain I'll never again forget what I thought in high school was a boring case about something stupid. I find myself wanting to retell the story the same way the author did because even though I'm not 100% convinced John Marshall had the motive ascribed to him, I can't think of any alternatives more plausible than the author's proposed interpretation.

The flow of the book was also brilliant. it is arranged chronologically, but this approach works beautifully for the book because it shows the evolution of government. The background for each chapter is provided in the previous chapters. Each progressive step seems to make perfect sense because the author keeps us firmly grounded in the zeitgeist of the day by building up to each successive era.

The 1st chapter starts with a description of life in the colonies. The author makes a convincing argument that the poverty was due in large part because of rampant freeloading inevitable in communal societies. The history I grew up with involved poor pilgrims, but didn't involve any insight into why they were poor. The author's perspective is relevant to the problem of freeloading in modern society as well. This one chapter earned 5 times the price of the book.

The 2nd chapter reviews the intellectual influences of the founders. It explains why they thought the way they did and introduces lessons about government that the founders took from societies in Rome, Greece and Switzerland. Some of the information in this chapter is a repeat from the author's equally superb book. This chapter also provides a quick review of the fighting that ensued after the Declaration of Independence. Washington comes of as the hero that he is, and he deserves some additional applause for the brilliant (and hilarious) way he neutralizes a band of Hessians with a single accomplice, strategically placed where the Hessians would be marching.

The remaining chapters cover each of the first 4 presidents: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison. Some of the presidents lived up to their ideals, others succumbed to temptation to deviate from their principles. This deviance takes on a somewhat tragic tone. For example, it was sobering to learn that Jefferson himself violated his own principles in his handling of the Barbary War, not to a catastrophic result, but to a disappointing one that might have (the author speculates) turned out far better for our country.

Another favorite part of the book was how the author tells the story of Adams and Jefferson, two rivals and friends, who died 50 years to the day of the Declaration of Independence. There was clearly so much more to their friendship and mutual respect than can possibly be conveyed by a short review of the country they founded, but it comes across in this retelling of a small but heartwarming side-note in history.

Brilliant, brilliant job to the author. The only thing I didn't like in the book was that in the last chapter, the author mentions Alan Greenspan and in my opinion severely understates Greenspan's inclination to manipulate the economy in harmful ways. The author often editorializes history with cautions against government run monopolies, government debt, and militarism; but for some reason Alan Greenspan doesn't deserve any blame for the massive collusion between the bank he ran for 20 years and the investment banks to which he and his friends at the treasury granted monopoly-like exemptions to common sense safeguards against fraud. The author is obviously not an apologist for big government/big business collusion or of government privileges to big business, but he overlooks Greenspan's Hamiltonian bent because it's well-concealed behind a Jeffersonian facade.

Still, I can't wait to start the next book even though it will cost me some sleep tonight.
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on October 11, 2016
Anyone who has done detailed reading of American history has run into the conflicts between facts and what is commonly held about the time. The author has done an outstanding job of tracing the conflicts with in America over what form of government and how that government should operate. A conflict that dates back well before the founding of the USA but which we can label easily enough as Jeffersonian vs Hamiltonian philosophy.
Great read. Looking forward to the following volumes.
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