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American Connections: The Founding Fathers. Networked.

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  86 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Using the unique approach that he has employed in his previous books, author, columnist, and television commentator James Burke shows us our connections to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Over the two hundred-plus years that separate us, these connections are often surprising and always fascinating. Burke turns the signers from historical icon ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 3rd 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2007)
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Sep 27, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
This is a book I should totally love - "six degrees" of separation between the signers of the Declaration of Independence and present day. It was really cool how the author would start each chapter with the name of a signer and somehow, through a very winding road, end with a different reference to the same person, usually attached to a different person. For example, it would find a way to attach a signer named William Whipple to the president of an agricultural association in 2002 who also happ ...more
Jan 29, 2008 Stan rated it did not like it
This book made me stop reading for a month. The author did great work completing extensive research. Unfortunately I found no relevance or interest to most of it. I had to force my self to complete this work. I am sure there is a place for this but my mind is not one of the places.
D.L. Morrese
Feb 16, 2016 D.L. Morrese rated it liked it
This is a clever book, but it's not the one I was expecting when I saw the title. I figured it would be about how the founding fathers' revolutionary ideas were influenced by their reading, contacting, and otherwise hobnobbing with Enlightenment thinkers. (This would still make a good book, if someone would like to write it.) What American Connections provides instead is a shotgun smattering of historical trivia in which each chapter begins with a few sentences about one of the 56 signers of the ...more
Jul 19, 2010 CJ rated it did not like it
What a disappointment. This silly book traces "connections" between the signers of the Declaration of Independence and someone or something with the same name.

Would have been a much better book if James Burke had explored some of the many inter-connections between the signers.

I am glad I borrowed it from the library rather than buying it.
Aug 27, 2014 Al rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with the book as the author primarily dealt with connections of each of the founding fathers coming forward in time to the present and provided very minimal detail on the founders themselves (defined as signers of the Declaration of Independence)....many of whom are rather would have been more interesting to learn more about these individuals.
David R.
Jul 08, 2013 David R. rated it it was ok
Burke cut his teeth decades ago with his "Connections" formula and this book applies same to the Declaration of Independence. But it is too cute by half: Burke ends each chapter where it began, with the name of the signer in some form. The contortions needed to conclude unusual ones like Button Gwinnett's are often pitiful. And some of the cross-links seem contrived as well, as many of the intervening characters (almost entirely drawn from American and continental Europe) seem to repeat a good d ...more
Sep 18, 2011 Lynne rated it it was amazing
A co-worker introduced my to James Burke and his columns. I love how he can tie people and events and end up at the beginning.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

James Burke is a Northern Irish science historian, author and television producer best known for his documentary television series called Connections, focusing on the history of science and technology leavened with a sense of humour.
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