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The Mind of a Patriot: Patrick Henry and the World of Ideas Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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"No previous work has seriously examined Henry's library and the role it played in Henry's life. Hayes's book stands alone.(John P. Kaminski, University of Wisconsin, Madison, editor of The Quotable Jefferson)
No one is better qualified to explore [Patrick] Henry's mind than Hayes, author of the magnificent literary biography of Jefferson, "The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson" (2008)...Hayes's superb little book deserves to be widely read--indeed, to be internalized--for the critical lessons it teaches us about literacy, orality, and political performance in Revolutionary America.(Peter S. Onuf Biography)
About the Author
Kevin J. Hayes is Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma and the author of several books, including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson and The Library of William Byrd of Westover, for which he received the Virginia Library History Award.
Top Customer Reviews
Kevin J. Hayes, a professor of English, explores that library. Or more correctly, he explores the books catalogued as a part of Patrick Henry's estate inventory. Henry's library wasn't extensive, but the fiery patriot known for his "give me liberty or give me death" speech, probably owned more at various times during his life, so the 188 books listed in the appendix also include some volumes that weren't present after Henry's death in 1799 but for which "sufficient evidence survives to justify their inclusion." Among the listed titles were various Latin and Greek primers and classics, manuals and texts for the study and practice of the law, various political theory and history books including ones discussing forms of government and the moral and economic problems of slavery, English and rhetoric books including dictionaries, a few novels, and some travel books.Read more ›
This short but useful effort does not attempt to be a biography of the great orator of the Revolution, but its reading will help one understand the type of person Patrick Henry was and the intellectual influences that shaped him as a young attorney and beyond.
Those who enjoy this book would certainly also enjoy another of Professor Hayes' books: "The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson."
As an aside, I think April Leidig-Higgins did a fine job designing the book's dust jacket.
The book does have its limits, subsisting on a lot of circumstantial evidence about Henry reading such and such book and being influenced by it in his actions. These are not unreasonable speculations, and the author is not given to many flights of fancy, and the book is short, so it makes for fairly satisfying reading.
The book is reasonably entertaining, with amusing quotes from Henry and his contemporaries on anything from French cooking to weightier (if less creamy) matters. And it is well-written, with very few phrases that made me cringe upon reading: a medicine book "well-worn from frequent bethumbings" and "David Henry knew more about Grub Street than grubworms" being a couple.
The author alludes to Henry's reputation as a man without system, of his somewhat unlearned pronunciation, and other sparsely documented traits, in effect telling the reader that there is probably much we'll never know about Henry, who as an old man apparently composed splendid sonnets for his family, only to burn them after his children played and sang them.
Thanks to this book, I am awash in memories of my time living in Williamsburg VA, and am even more eager to read the bios by Beeman and Mayer. Any bibliophile or lover of colonial American history will probably find this brief book worth adding to their personal library.
Thus, a 'book on books' proves much more interesting than I first thought it would... at any rate quick read, and lots of relevant information.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am an amateur student of the American Revolution and a great admirer of Patrick Henry. I purchased this book as a way to learn about the written words that influenced the mind... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by the1911patriot
I found it very difficult reading and didn't give me the insight into PH I expected. It seemed to be more of a library catalog.Published on July 6, 2013 by Stephen Ames