What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers
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What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  133 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Why do Americans care so much about the Founding Fathers? After all, the French don't ask themselves, "What would Napoleon do?" But Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Adams built our country, wrote our user's manuals--the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution--and ran the nation while it was still under warranty and could be returned to the man...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 15th 2006 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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May 20, 2007 suz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who need a better understanding of the founding of America (most of us)
A review from Steve on Amazon ...
"This book is not what I expected. I was ready to find easy answers to complex questions that would satisfy my preconceived ideas of what I thought the founders believed instead I got complex answers to easy questions which many times were just the opposite of what I believe. As I read, I found myself disappointed and intrigued with the founders at the same time, they weren't the perfect examples of pure libertarian wisdom I envisioned however I could see how the...more
Jeremy Perron
Often when one turns on the television to any political talk show, regardless of the station, it is not unusual to find someone on program invoking men from centuries past. The person will claim that founders of the United States would support position A (their position) and be against position B (their opponent's position). Often the person will even argue that their opponent's position is an outright betrayal of the founders' vision. These `talking heads*' often make quite a few assumptions wi...more
Michael Redmond
And now, a word from our Founders: Brookhiser projects their solutions to contemporary problems

By Michael Redmond
The Princeton Packet
June 2006

Richard Brookhiser has been spending his time in some pretty distinguished company lately — namely, with those dead white guys once known as the Founding Founders, now generally known as the Founders, thanks to a gender-neutral imperative which they surely would have thought quite peculiar.

Theirs is familiar company for Mr. Brookhiser, a New York Obser...more
This is a book I'll be using in my BYU Honors American Heritage class next semester. It's an interesting concept. Brookhiser (senior editor at the National review) takes contemporary political questions and based on historical research speculates about what the Founders may have thought about this issue. The book is sure to spur some controversy and discussion, which is one reason I like it for the class. No one is going to agree with Brookhiser's take on all these questions. And his entries are...more
This was a fun read for me as a US history teacher. I loved the anecdotes. I do have to say that standing on its own I don't think it was a great book, because I think he only partially completed the task he set out to accomplish with this book. He rarely got beyond the surface concerning how founders would address issues of our time, and while to his credit he did address several times the issue of treating the founders as one group, he didn't do any systematic analysis to prove it. For example...more
This is a fun and interesting book. The Founding Fathers have certainly become the objects of increased interest over the past few years. From David McCoullough to the Tea Party, Americans seem to be looking at our nation's founding generation like no other time in recent memory. Much of this book is speculative: can we really parse the Founder's letters and other writings to know what they'd think about stem cell research, or drilling in ANWR? Other parts are dead on target: the Founders did ha...more
Having a hard time knowing whether this should go on the history or the historical fiction shelf. The writing was equal to the immature ramblings of a jr. high kid with Attention Deficit Disorder. Citations and actual evidence was few and far between. Claims were weak and the support was even weaker. This was a waste of time (fortunately I got it for .25cents so it was not too much of a waste of money). Even when legitmate documents were quoted (ex the Federalist papers) they were often quoted o...more
A fun read. Not real deep, but fun. Good vacation read for history buffs.

Richard Brookhiser got the idea for What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers from the questions from his audiences when he would give a public lecture on the founders. "Richard, what would the founding fathers have said about...(illegal immigration, marijuana, the war in Iraq, etc.)? So, he collected a number of those questions, did a little research and wrote this fun little book.

Richard Brookhiser is the...more
A fun and entertaining read that doesn't live up to its premise. Brookhiser poses a series of contemporary questions, and then explains how some of the founders would answer them. In many cases, the explanation doesn't answer the question at all. For example, when asking about tax credits for private schools, Brookhiser goes through the thoughts of some founders on private colleges.

Even though many, if not most, of the questions are not answered, the explanations do provide interesting informat...more
Yosef Shapiro
An interesting idea.
Brian Eshleman
Ecclesiastes is right, there really is nothing new under the sun. I expected the author to have to get into a lot of conjecture to justify how the Founders would have dealt with particular issues, but they really dealt with similar things. The author's encyclopedic knowledge of his subject is clear in the easy way he can communicate where the Founders stood without a lot of jargon or stilted language. Definitely a good book.
This book provides a lot of great information dealing with contemporary issues, and looks back to see how the founders of our nation would address these issues--certainly a fascinating set-up for a book. (Personal note: I began this book on an airplane waiting to leave SFO on June 30, 2007, and finished it on June 6, 2009.)
Some interesting perspectives. Like many books of this kind, the author tends to focus on those aspects of the Founders' writings that closely match his own perspective. He does at least attempt to show that they struggled in many of the same ways we do.
Michael White
Good premise, but the summaries don't do more than skim the surface, and the author often seems to take the conservative view, not really going into depth about the founders' principles, and the fact that they were men of their time. Not worth the read.
This book would have been far better had the author thoroughly examined say 10 core issues that existed at our founding and persist today. Instead it covers 100 issues superficially and many of his conclusions were true reaches.
Michael Taylor
This was a book that had a lot of potential, but failed to live up to it. As a teacher, this read like a book which needed a lot more research to flesh out the topics. I'm very disappointed.
So sad! This could have been a wonderful book if Brookhiser hadn't been so coy that he confuses the reader and if he had expanded the essays. He could have spent twice as much time on each topic.
This is an oftentimes humorous book that theorizes how the Founders would answer today's perplexing dilemmas. I especially enjoyed reading the "Founderblogs" at the end of the book.
Jason Roland
Fun to look at modern problems and guess what the founders would have done. Brookhiser, a great author, takes a look at what they wrote/said and applies it to today. Great stuff
I enjoyed reading this book. I think that someone interested in both American history as well as current events would probably enjoy this book too.
Ummmm, I was expecting something wonderful and didn't get it so I was a bit dissapponted
Easy read. Not many original insights. Perhaps a good introductory book to the topic.
Interesting read & thought provoking. Makes you think how today compares to the past
A good intellectual read bringing past and present together.
Aaron Benedict
Interesting concept for a book but it didn't satisfy.
Melissa Robertson
Melissa Robertson marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2014
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