In 1768, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush stood before the empty throne of King George III, overcome with emotion as he gazed at the symbol of America's connection with England. Eight years later, he became one of the fifty-six men to sign the Declaration of Independence, severing America forever from its mother country. Rush was not alone in his radical decision -- many of those casting their votes in favor of independence did so with a combination of fear, reluctance, and even sadness.In Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor, acclaimed historian Richard R. Beeman examines the grueling twenty-two-month period between the meeting of the Continental Congress on September 5, 1774 and the audacious decision for independence in July of 1776. As late as 1774, American independence was hardly inevitable -- indeed, most Americans found it neither desirable nor likely. When delegates from the thirteen colonies gathered in September, they were, in the words of John Adams, "a gathering of strangers." Yet over the next two years, military, political, and diplomatic events catalyzed a change of unprecedented magnitude: the colonists' rejection of their British identities in favor of American ones. In arresting detail, Beeman brings to life a cast of characters, including the relentless and passionate John Adams, Adams' much-misunderstood foil John Dickinson, the fiery political activist Samuel Adams, and the relative political neophyte Thomas Jefferson, and with profound insight reveals their path from subjects of England to citizens of a new nation. A vibrant narrative, Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor tells the remarkable story of how the delegates to the Continental Congress, through courage and compromise, came to dedicate themselves to the forging of American independence.
"Entertaining . . . Benjamin Rush has been undeservedly forgotten. In medicine . . . and] as a political thinker, he was brilliant."--The New Yorker
"Superb . . . reminds us eloquently, abundantly, what a brilliant, original man Benjamin Rush was, and how his contributions to . . . the United States continue to bless us all."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Perceptive . . . a] readable reassessment of Rush's remarkable career."--The Wall Street Journal
"An amazing life and a fascinating book."--CBS This Morning "Fried makes the case, in this comprehensive and fascinating biography, that renaissance man Benjamin Rush merits more attention. . . . Fried portrays Rush as a complex, flawed person and not just a list of accomplishments; . . . a testament to the authorial thoroughness and insight that will keep readers engaged until the last page."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) " An] extraordinary and underappreciated man is reinstated to his rightful place in the canon of civilizational advancement in Rush. . . . Had I read Fried's Rush before the year's end, it would have crowned my favorite books of 2018 . . . a] superb biography."--Brain Pickings
It is an era that redefined history. As the 1790s began, a fragile America teetered on the brink of oblivion, Russia towered as a vast imperial power, and France plunged into revolution. But in contrast to the way conventional histories tell it, none of these remarkable events occurred in isolation. Now, for the first time, in The Great Upheaval, acclaimed historian Jay Winik masterfully illuminates how their fates combined in one extraordinary moment to change the course of civilization.
In this sweeping, magisterial drama, Winik brings his vast, meticulous research and narrative genius to the cold, dark battlefields and deadly clashes of ideologies that defined this age. Here is a savage world war, the top-pling of a great dynasty, and an America struggling to survive at home and abroad. Here, too, is the first modern holy war between Islam and a resurgent Christian empire. And here is the richest cast of characters to walk upon the world stage: Washington and Jefferson, Louis XVI and Robespierre, Catherine the Great, Adams, Napoleon, and Selim III. With powerful echoes for understanding the international chaos that confronts the globe today, we see them all fighting desperately for the ideals they believed in, whether man-made democracy or divinely inspired autocracy, whether republicanism or Allah's law.
Exquisitely written and utterly compelling, The Great Upheaval vividly depicts an arc of revolutionary fervor stretching from Philadelphia and Paris to St. Petersburg and Cairo--with fateful results. A landmark in historical literature, Winik's gripping, epic portrait of this tumultuous decade will forever transform the way we see America's beginnings and our world.
The #1 New York Times bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.
Chernow's biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America's birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.
Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow's biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today's America is the result of Hamilton's countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. "To repudiate his legacy," Chernow writes, "is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world." Chernow here recounts Hamilton's turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington's aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America's birth as the triumph of Jefferson's democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we've encountered before--from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton's famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.
In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history.This is history on a grand scale -- a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
Winner of the George Washington Prize
Winner of the Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History
Winner of the Excellence in American History Book Award
Winner of the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award
From the bestselling author of the Liberation Trilogy comes the extraordinary first volume of his new trilogy about the American Revolution
The author of seven highly acclaimed books, Joseph J. Ellis has crafted a landmark biography that brings to life in all his complexity the most important and perhaps least understood figure in American history, George Washington. With his careful attention to detail and his lyrical prose, Ellis has set a new standard for biography.Drawing from the newly catalogued Washington papers at the University of Virginia, Joseph Ellis paints a full portrait of George Washington's life and career-from his military years through his two terms as president. Ellis illuminates the difficulties the first executive confronted as he worked to keep the emerging country united in the face of adversarial factions. He richly details Washington's private life and illustrates the ways in which it influenced his public persona. Through Ellis's artful narration, we look inside Washington's marriage and his subsequent entrance into the upper echelons of Virginia's plantation society. We come to understand that it was by managing his own large debts to British merchants that he experienced firsthand the imperiousness of the British Empire. And we watch the evolution of his attitude toward slavery, which led to his emancipating his own slaves in his will. Throughout, Ellis peels back the layers of myth and uncovers for us Washington in the context of eighteenth-century America, allowing us to comprehend the magnitude of his accomplishments and the character of his spirit and mind.
When Washington died in 1799, Ellis tells us, he was eulogized as "first in the hearts of his countrymen." Since then, however, his image has been chisled onto Mount Rushmore and printed on the dollar bill. He is on our landscape and in our wallets but not, Ellis argues, in our hearts. Ellis strips away the ivy and legend that have grown up over the Washington statue and recovers the flesh-and-blood man in all his passionate and fully human prowess. In the pantheon of our republic's founders, there were many outstanding individuals. And yet each of them-Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison- acknowledged Washington to be his superior, the only indispensable figure, the one and only "His Excellency." Both physically and politically, Washington towered over his peers for reasons this book elucidates. His Excellency is a full, glorious, and multifaceted portrait of the man behind our country's genesis, sure to become the authoritative biography of George Washington for many decades.