Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots” as Want to Read:
Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Most Americans know Patrick Henry as a fiery speaker whose pronouncement “Give me liberty or give me death!” rallied American defiance to the British Crown. But Henry’s skills as an orator—sharpened in the small towns and courtrooms of colonial Virginia—are only one part of his vast, but largely forgotten, legacy. As historian Thomas S. Kidd shows, Henry cherished a vision ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Basic Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Patrick Henry, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Patrick Henry

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 164)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
The famous "Liberty or Death" speech was early in his career and became one of many that brought him fame and supporters. He was different from the other founders. He was a lawyer, but he was self-taught. He was a planter, but he was not a gentleman farmer. When times were rough, he tended bar. While the founders kept their religious beliefs in the background, Henry brought his into the forefront. But, like the Virginia founders, he did own slaves, and like many of them had qualms about it in hi ...more
Lauren Albert
This is more of a biography of “Patrick-Henry-as Patriot” then of Patrick Henry. Not so much attention is paid to his private life despite him having 17 children with his two wives. His own political positions, as Kidd portrays them, do help give a reality to some of the arguments during the time—states’ rights vs. centralized government (and the connected debate over the Constitution) being the largest.
Great book. I represented Henry as a godly man, consistent patriot, and all about freedom and liberty. At the same time he owned slaves and knew it was inconsistent with liberty. He even knew that God was not going to bless the nation as long as slavery existed. He was conflicted between his political leadership, his financial irresponsibility at home, his understanding of scripture and his ownership of people. Patrick Henry did a lot right, and a lot wrong; but he did it with great zeal.

The mos
Allen Roth
I have long been a student of early American History. But after reading numerous books about the American Revolution, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, John Adams, Ratification, etc. I knew very little about the important role Patrick Henry played in the founding of our nation, until I read Thomas Kidd's splendid biography: Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots In addition to learning about Henry, the biography focuses on the formation of our Republic from the perspective of Virginian ...more
I really enjoyed this book. For the most part, I found it to be very balanced and well done. There are some places where I felt like Prof. Kidd fell into some modern, politically-correct type analysis that I don't find all that helpful. For example, Prof. Kidd seems to occaisionally accept the prevailing "wisdom" that the American War for Independence was only about money and taxes. Much could be said on this, but it will suffice here to note that this requires us to ignore the words of the Decl ...more
George Paul
Thomas S. Kidd, Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (New York: Basic Books, 2011). $28.00, 320 pages.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Patrick Henry before I read Thomas S. Kidd’s biography of him. I knew—as all schoolboys should know—that he uttered the famous line, “give me liberty, or give me death.” I also knew that his support for a general assessment for religion—taxpayer funded clergy support—in Virginia provoked James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance. And finally I knew that Henr
This is a good book about one of the Founding Fathers. Professor Kidd has given us a good picture of a man whose great themes are "liberty, virtue and patriotism." (p. 246) I was particularly struck by chapter 9, "Defending the Revolution bu Opposing the Constitution." Henry believed the ideals of the American Revolution were betrayed in adopting the Constitution. He saw the issue as too many expansive powers vested in the government and the chief executive, with a resulting loss of rights to pe ...more
Matt Pitts
Those wanting to know more about a largely unknown founding father will find the 'information gap' on Patrick Henry well filled by this book. As far as biographies go, this one does a better job of showing where the man fit in the times than it does making you feel like you really know the man himself. In other words, you may not get to know much about Henry's personality, family life, or the specifics of his oritorical greatness, but you will know what he was doing, what role he played, and wha ...more
Good - a basic bio, setting Henry in the context of his times.
Having recently visited Red Hill, Henry's final home, in central Virginia (near the epicenter of the 2011 Va. earthquake), I figured it was time to read about his life. First thing you notice, after reading the entire bio: the "Don't tread on me" slogan has been twisted out of its original meaning. Overall, an excellent portrayal of a man who truly did live his convictions; and yet, when he saw that his oratory skills and closely held convictions would not win, was able to accept the point-of-vi ...more
Bryn Dunham
Famous for his oratorical abilities, Patrick Henry became a household name and is known mostly for his "liberty or death" speech. This book is more of a brief political/public service biography of Henry and not an in depth "Ron Chernow or David McCullough-esq" book. It's interesting but dry at times, but a decent book to get a feel for Patrick Henry's career and political positions. I can recommend it to anybody interested in this lesser known patriot and revolutionary figure.
This book covers the fiery Patrick Henry especially through shortly before the American Revolution to the time of the Constitutional ratification debates and his death. So we learn not only about Patrick Henry himself, but about the times and some of the problems he and others of the time faced. The book is very readable, and makes me curious about some of the other characters of the time, such as the misunderstood (?) Thomas Jefferson.
Lynn Price
A well-written account of Patrick Henry's life from a religious standpoint. Patrick Henry was a very religious man, but in reading an account such as this, other aspects of his life are unnecessarily diminished. This defect can be easily overcome by reading various other biographies of Henry, such as Son of Thunder, a political biography.
Gary R.
I liked this book very much. It's not immensely detailed, but a good read and not boring.
Benjamin Glaser
Really enjoyable read about a founding father that a lot of people know, but know little about. Author does a good job of presenting a "Cromwellian" biography (that is warts and all) of Patrick Henry that leaves almost no stone unturned as well as giving a good view of the events of the Revolution from a Virginian standpoint.
Interesting book on an underappreciated patriot. Occasionally a little redundant - could have used a good editor!
Susan Anthony
Good book! Not the easiest to follow at times but full of information.
Janine Urban
Janine Urban marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2015
Vince marked it as to-read
Jul 14, 2015
Pete Girbert
Pete Girbert is currently reading it
Jul 09, 2015
Aaron Deerey
Aaron Deerey is currently reading it
Jun 22, 2015
Kyle Quigley
Kyle Quigley marked it as to-read
Jun 07, 2015
Stephanie Stevens
Stephanie Stevens marked it as to-read
Jun 01, 2015
David Addiss
David Addiss marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2015
Linda Sheffield
Linda Sheffield marked it as to-read
Mar 20, 2015
Tim Stricker
Tim Stricker marked it as to-read
Mar 08, 2015
NotSoSAHM marked it as to-read
Mar 08, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Thomas S. Kidd teaches history at Baylor University, and is Senior Fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. Dr. Kidd has appeared on the Glenn Beck tv program, the Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager radio shows, and written columns for USA Today and the Washington Post. He is a columnist for His latest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. Other books include God of Lib ...more
More about Thomas S. Kidd...
God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents Baptists in America: A History

Share This Book