by Joseph Ellis
published by Knopf
© 2007 by Joseph Ellis
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This subtle, brilliant examination of the period between the War of
Independence and the Louisiana Purchase puts Pulitzer-winner Ellis (Founding
Brothers) among the finest of America's narrative historians.
Six stories, each centering on a significant creative achievement or
failure, combine to portray often flawed men and their efforts to lay
the republic's foundation. Set against the extraordinary establishment
of the most liberal nation-state in the history of Western Civilization...
in the most extensive and richly endowed plot of ground on the planet
are the terrible costs of victory, including the perpetuation of slavery
and the cruel oppression of Native Americans.
Ellis blames the founders' failures on their decision to opt for an
evolutionary revolution, not a risky severance with tradition (as would
happen, murderously, in France, which necessitated compromises, like
retaining slavery). Despite the injustices and brutalities that resulted,
Ellis argues, this deferral strategy was a profound insight rooted in
a realistic appraisal of how enduring social change best happens.
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