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After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture
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After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  124 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Each life is fascinating in its own right, and each is used to brightly illuminate the historical context.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 1st 1979)
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Lauren Albert
Ellis makes two main points and the book felt repetitive to me as he argued those points in the introductory chapters and the four profile chapters of Charles Willson Peale, Noah Webster, Hugh Henry Brackenridge and William Dunlap. First, he argues that there was a general feeling of cultural potential in the early Republic, even though there was no tangible evidence of a cultural flourishing. He believes that it was based on a general feeling that artists would thrive, along with commerce, in a ...more
David Kopec
Well Written and Researched but Incomplete

Contrary to a previous reviewer, I do feel the preface and early chapters have value. Ellis is attempting to tell a unified story regarding the expectations for American cultural greatness, the roots of these expectations, and the reasons for their lack of flourishing immediately following the revolution. The early chapters and preface provide a context for that story, which plays itself out through the lives of the four individuals recounted in the in t
Joe Conklin

First, I should say I was duped into buying this book. It was billed as "written by the author of Founding Brothers", which it certainly was. And I assumed since the title was After the Revolution, it would be a follow up book on Founding Brothers. However, it was written over 30 years prior to most of Ellis' best known books. As such the preface was nearly unreadable and Part I wasn't much better. However, those are only the first 20 pages or so. Part II was very good and displays a glimpse of
Fraser Sherman
3.5. An early book by Ellis on why the revolutionary generation widely assumed that overthrowing tyranny would lead to a massive bloom of artistic genius and why it didn't happen. To make this concrete, Ellis looks at a painter, a playwright,a novelist and dictionary creator Noah Webster to see what they hoped for in their careers, how things worked out, and how they dealt with the shift from a world of revolutionary idealism to a growing emphasis on commerce.
This book is composed of vignettes about four American culture makers (authors, artists, dramatists, etc.) in the first generation after the Revolutionary War. Although the individuals profiled are generally not household names, the book includes a lot of information about early American culture, and explains why it took such a long time for the newly independent United States to develop an artistic tradition.
Joseph Ellis is a wonderfully clear writing and writes primarily about the American REvolutionary period. This 1979 study of four colonial artists--painter, playright, novelist and wordsmith (?Noah Webster)--is a wonderful look at colonial life. It makes it clear that America was a whole new invention, not a new Europe or a new anything else. It is simply itself and is still becoming that.
Jan 25, 2013 Marian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history enthusiasts
Shelves: textbooks
Easy to read, good for a textbook, but could have been a lot shorter. The biographies of Peale, Brackenridge, Dunlap, and Webster contain an interesting balance of chronology, trivia, and analysis. Naturally, they all tie into Ellis's theme/thesis, which centers on the conflicts between democracy and American art. Overall, it was pretty good, if somewhat repetitive.
I found it interesting to see the expectations of the post-revolutionary generation for the greatness of American culture. I wonder what they would think of our culture today!
Tony Laplume
Ellis has not yet refined his ability to synthesize and accurately define the figures and character of a given age. Or perhaps I must reread Founding Brothers...
John E
Really good book. Simple thesis and well written and well documented history of the cultural ideas of the immediate post-American Revolutionary period.

Gave this a shot because Joseph J. Ellis is one of my favorites, but I couldn't get into this one. It just wasn't what I was expecting.
This is important information to know, but it is a slow read. I used it like Nyquil, but I read it.
Interesting to American history buffs like myself, but not very entertaining. A bit dry.
Not my area of interest, however, it was interesting to learn.
Only really liked the chapter on Noah Webster.
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Joseph J. Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, is a nationally recognized scholar of American history from colonial times through the early decades of the Republic. The author of seven books, he is recipient of the National Book Award in Nonfiction for American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson and the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers. He lives in Massachusetts.
More about Joseph J. Ellis...
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation His Excellency: George Washington American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic First Family: Abigail and John Adams

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