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A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  313 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a narrative that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest in America to the volcanic election of 1800. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to America ...more
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published June 12th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2003)
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Diana
This awesome book probably changed my life. It was a great overview of the American Revolution, focusing briefly on the contribution of the founding fathers. It was like introducing me to a fascinating series books and letting me pick and choose which characters held the most interest for me. I followed it immediately with a biography of Alexander Hamilton.
Tim
A Leap in the Dark is a good overview of the wider Revolutionary period (1754 to 1800). It is a long book, but Ferling provides a good, fun read because the story always moves. It is primarily a political and economic history, not focusing on military or social history (so say slavery and religion are only discussed in political terms) in too much depth. It offers many small biographical vignettes of both the famous and the not so famous. Ferling highlights the rise of democracy and the conserv ...more
Jed
A fascinating, well-written history of the events leading up to the American revolution, largely from the bottom up. An essential perspective on an event which still reverberates around the world. Full of fresh, 3-dimensional portrats of the 'Founding Fathers' & their little brothers.
Iain
John Ferling is an excellent historian and writes a beautifully crafted narrative of the political side of the American Revolution. "A Leap in the Dark" is a brilliant description of what the Americans did in 1776 and Ferling's narrative brings you through all the governing challenges from 1754 to 1800. The first rumblings, to crisis, to war, to fragmentation with the rise of the party system and near self destruction to calmer waters in the establishment of Jeffersonian democracy. The young rep ...more
Amy
I loved this book! When we learned about the American Revolution in junior high, my teacher assigned me alternative assignments because I loved history and did very well in that subject. Unfortunately, the special assignments were done in the library and I was not in the actual classroom during class. I learned nothing about the American Revolution, and have gone through the last three decades with absolutely no idea about this all-important event in American history. After reading this book, I ...more
Robert Johnson
Any book written by John Ferling is a treat. Well researched and written in an illuminating manner I seek out each new book by this gifted author. I have all of his books and eagerly wait for his newest. I highly recommend the very knowledgable author.
Adam
Mar 08, 2008 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New U.S. history buffs looking for guidance
Overall a very interesting snapshot of 1750-1800 in America, though it's a bit long-winded in spots. One of the best parts is how Ferling will weave the names everyone knows in and out of his presentation of the story with little to no warning. You'll be reading about some low ranking politician in Boston and he'll say something like, "(Mr. low-ranking politician) frequently attended dinners at the home of a well-known silversmith named PAUL REVERE..." This approach may not work for everyone, bu ...more
Andy
Fantastically brilliant historical account of the early days of the USA. It is surprisingly contemporary-feeling in its approach, focusing on the shifting debates of the time, and some of the personal conflicts between the founders (there's a lot of drama around Hamilton in particular). If anything can be carried away from the reading of this book, it's that most of the political struggles of current-day America had their roots in the founding of this country, and that said conflicts have surviv ...more
Bryan
Good book. It provides a lot of insight into the Revolutionary War period. The prose flows well, and the author does a good job presenting the material in an interesting manner. Recommended for those who want to dig deeper than the standard school presentation of this pivotal era.
Mark Singer
A political history of the American Revolution from the beginnings of the French & Indian Wars in 1754 up until the 1800 election between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, this is a good companion to Ferling's "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, which concentrated on the military part of the American Revolution.
Andrew Owens
Ferling writes for an audience with passing knowledge, and inserts some commentary on the historiography of particulars. With his continued theme of foundational policy decisions (leaps in the dark), he succeeds in bringing the reader into the heated debates and motives of the revolutionary period. It is a book that provides intimacy with the policy challenges more so than with the characters - which was refreshing for this reader after a series of biographies.
Anna
*sticks tongue out at book* Haha I finished you. I did not like how Ferling would explain an event then go all the way back and explain a person's involvement in it. Very much a political history of the US.
John
As an avid American History fan,and as the father of an only son, currently deployed to Afghanistan as an American soldier serving his country, I have an intense interest in all things which support our American way of life, and how it all got started. This book comes highly recommended to me by a friend whose opinions I respect highly.
Andrew
A readable chronological account of the Revolutionary / Early Republican Eras that will often provide extra depth of insight beyond standard narratives of the period. I read from GW to JA over the weekend to get another take on Hamilton vs. Jefferson.
Kim
Grab your dictionary because this author will increase your vocabulary! Positively wonderful use of words. Not an easy read but a very good one for its perspective on the personalities, politics, and convictions of our founding fathers.
Cindy
A detailed history of the American Revolution from the point of view of the Americans. College history book on steroids
Greg
Great narrative of America from pre-Revolution up to the turn of the ninteenth century. Smart too.
Craig J.
A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic by John Ferling (2004)
Kristopher  S
Ferling offers additional insight into the politics of the Revolutionary period.
Tom Delise
Very readable -- a great guide to all you need to know about the American Revolution.
Ed
should be a must read for all high school students
Jonathan
Slow, but filled in many gaps for me.
Paul
Incredible book; from the Boston Massacre to Jefferson's inauguration and everything in between.
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John E. Ferling is a professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he is the author of several books, including "A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic", "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence", and his most recent work, "The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Politi ...more
More about John Ferling...
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