Joseph Ellis, is one of the foremost scholars on the American Revolutionary period, and in this book, he chooses to examine the lives of several ‘brothers’ and the events that were taking place during the American Revolution and the decades immediately afterwards.
Ellis chose not to use the more common ‘Founding Fathers’ to emphasize that this group of men were indeed bonded together through events and at the same time individuals with differing opinions. So we not only learn what happened in the macro sense, but also we get to understand each man and how their personal views shaped American Independence. Perhaps even more importantly, the continued struggle to determine exactly what type of Republic the United States would become. The original Articles of Confederation were inadequate, eventually requiring a new Constitution with a much stronger central government was formed. However, to get to that point, there were many points of compromise by both sides, including such contentious decisions as not abolishing Slavery. These decisions would shape future history and continue to shape the lives of each American. Ellis not only drives these points home, he does so eloquently and I venture to say he is one of best writers of history in English currently. Even if you only had a cursory interest in this period, or perhaps trying to understand the United States constant push/pull between federal and states rights, you need to read this book. For such a small volume, its says much and says it well.