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Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation Paperback – February 15, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 388 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

ABC News political commentator and NPR news analyst Roberts didn't intend this as a general history of women's lives in early America-she just wanted to collect some great "stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers." For while we know the names of at least some of these women (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney), we know little about their roles in the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, or the politics of our early republic. In rough chronological order, Roberts introduces a variety of women, mostly wives, sisters or mothers of key men, exploring how they used their wit, wealth or connections to influence the men who made policy. As high-profile players married into each other's families, as wives died in childbirth and husbands remarried, it seems as if early America-or at least its upper crust-was indeed a very small world. Roberts's style is delightfully intimate and confiding: on the debate over Mrs. Benedict Arnold's infamy, she proclaims, "Peggy was in it from the beginning." Roberts also has an ear for juicy quotes; she recounts Aaron Burr's mother, Esther, bemoaning that when talking to a man with "mean thoughts of women," her tongue "hangs pretty loose," so she "talked him quite silent." In addition to telling wonderful stories, Roberts also presents a very readable, serviceable account of politics-male and female-in early America. If only our standard history textbooks were written with such flair! 7 illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Focusing mainly on the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of the Founding Fathers, this lively and engaging title chronicles the adventures and contributions of numerous women of the era between 1740 and 1797. Roberts includes a surprising amount of original writings, but uses modern language and spellings to enable readers to enjoy fully the wit and wisdom of these remarkable individuals. While their men were away serving as soldiers, statesmen, or ambassadors, the women's lives were fraught with difficulty and danger. They managed property, and raised their children and often those of deceased relatives, while trying to make their own contributions to the cause of liberty. They acted as spies, coordinated boycotts, and raised funds for the army. Through it all, they corresponded with their husbands, friends, and even like-minded women in England. Readers will enjoy seeing how many of these individuals showed their mettle when they were still in their teens. Black-and-white photographs of portraits, a small selection of recipes, and a cast of characters are included.–Kathy Tewell, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006009026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060090265
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (388 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By V. L. Wilson on May 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cokie Roberts thoroughly enjoyed writing this tribute to the wives of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and other prominent women of the era . The book begins in the early 1700's. It ends when the presidency of George Washington ends and John Adams is elected, in 1797.
I appreciated the notes and the cast of characters including names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the signers of the Constitution, the players in the new government, women writers of the period, and famous soldiers and statesmen during the revolutionary war, which are included in the back of the book.
Excerpts from many letters are included and are so beautifully written.Let your imagination wander as you read vivid accounts of the sacrifices made by families who wanted independence from England - the yellow fever and smallpox epidemics, the building of a military, the contributions made by exceptional women such as Abigail Adams and Martha Washington, as well as Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and many others portrayed here.
Cokie writes as if she is having fun telling us so many interesting facts about the "founding families", and I had fun learning more about them and relearning early American history.
The true story of Benedict Arnold and his wife was enlightening as well as the character of Alexander Hamilton.
You will enjoy learning about influential women in this book.
Cokie has inserted some of her own remarks to lighten up the picture, and she carefully recounts the contributions of each state as they represented the new government at that time; the
conflicts with the British,the alliance with the French, as well as inevitable partisan politics.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very fascinating book and I am glad that I was able to buy it not too long ago. I remember reading the back of the book at the bookstore and thinking, "I have to have it." That first thought hasn't changed.

This book is written about women who influenced the leaders of the Revolutionary War, the first Continental Congress, the first Congress, first states and so on. These are women who have managed to keep the homefires burning, raising children and oftentimes, burying children, finding ways to keep their heads above financial debt while their husbands were away at war or at debates. These are women who have given up homes and friends to be with their husbands overseas on diplomatic missions ~~ women who published their thoughts and urged other patriots to fight in the war. These are not shy wall-flowers that other historical tomes would have you believe. These women really did back their influential husbands because they are strong women themselves.

This book covers the pre-War era, the Revolution, and the beginnings of a new country where it took men two years on how to decide to rule this brand-new country. This book was based on other biographies, letters exchanged among the women and among their husbands, and other historical tidbits that definitely made this book interesting. I know there are reviewers here who did not like Roberts' little asides and comments nor did they like her style of writing. I found it utterly fascinating and wanted to read more. It was disjointed in some places as she would wander off track for a little bit ~~ but I never had any trouble following her train of thought. It was just fascinating.

This book is a must-read for every true history reader.
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Format: Paperback
I rather enjoyed this low-keyed take on history. The reading was easy and it was fun and I did indeed learn some facts I was unaware of. This by no means is "hard core history" and I doubt if it was ment to be. The book of course take a look a the wives of some of our founding fathers and the role they played at the time. The book appears to be reasonably researched, as any book of the nature can be, and the author uses an easy and informative style. On the otherhand, I doubt if this work will satisfy the hard core reader of history any more than it will satisfy the reader who is wanting a cozy sort of read...it sort of falls in the middle somewhere. I read it for pleasure and did receive that from it. Recommend this one.
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Format: Hardcover
The concept of this book is what interested me. I was quite inspired by the women depicted here. Unfortuantely I found the work to be poorly written. I certainly could have done without the personal commentary Cokie threaded through the book. It was as if I was being directed what to think. I "get it" I wanted to scream. The content wasn't all that bad but the book is written for the reader young reader, perhaps of high school age. I would consider it for paperback if at all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was our book club's selection for June, and we all had been excited by the topic and the author. I was disappointed reading it. The first chapter was the only fairly coherent one because Roberts stayed pretty much on-topic when describing Eliza Pinckney. After that, Roberts seemed to lose her way. The book is crying out for a good editor. Surely the editor should have cleaned up the ridiculously long paragraphs-one was over a page and went from person to person, back and forth through time, and I never could figure out the point. The book was so hard to read that it took me two weeks to slough through the 278 pages of the main text.

At book club meetings, we usually have a wide range of opinions on books, but this time, the vote was unanimous: It was dreadful. A few of the comments from members were: Fascinating premise; terrible rendering; what a waste of a good topic; expected better from Roberts; got published just because it was by Roberts; jumbled; rambling; jumps around with no rhyme or reason; stream-of-consciousness; flighty; poorly-written; hard-to-read; hard-to-follow; inappropriate personal comments throughout, with almost no serious analysis of the data presented.

I like buying books, but this is the first book club book that I've wished I took out of the library instead of buying.
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