Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers is one of those books that makes you wonder why more people don't enjoy history. Considering how long I have wanted to read this book, the time I actually got around to it couldn't have been better.

To quickly summarize Founding Brothers examines the relationships between and the personalities of the intellectual elite that helped to form the United States of America. No doubt one of the reasons this book won a Pulitzer Prize is because Joseph Ellis' writing style is imminently accessible. History books, especially those more academic in nature, have a reputation for being incredibly dry. This book is proof that history does not have to be boring. In fact the utility of history, or rather our ability to learn from it, is directly related to our ability to relate to it.

One day I hope to be a teacher, and if I ever find myself teaching history, I would pick this book to help introduce students to an era in our nation's history that most have learned about from legends as opposed to verifiable facts. As such, I think it is important to acknowledge the errors made early in our nation's history (i.e. our very conscious choice to put the issue of slavery on the back burner as opposed to abolishing it straight out of the starting gate, as was actually debated by our government for decades afters its founding), just as much as it is important to celebrate our successes.

This book also serves to illustrate just how fragile democracies are, a lesson that is especially relavant in a time when our government is imposing democracic values upon the world. That without highly principaled, highly intelligent, non-partisan leadership - most democracies will be doomed to failure in one form or another.

Despite Robert Ellis being accused of plagiarism, I found the book incredibly well referenced which demonstrated just how thourough, and "academic" a well written, and even enjoyable history book can be.