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American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America
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American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  22 reviews
(Norton Spring Catalog 2009)
From the best-selling author of 'Benjamin Franklin' come a remarkable work that will help redefine our notion of American heroism. As Edmung S. Morgan, the recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, explains, Americans have long been obsessed with their heroes, but the men and women dramatically portrayed here are not celebrated for the typical banal
hardcover, 304 pages
Published 2009 by Norton
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Mike Prochot
What an odd little book.

The cover is misleading.

A selection of essays about or in regard to various figures in the history of the American continent - or maybe the "New World" is a better description. There seems to have been an attempt to link this collection together by an oblique definition or ancient translation of the word "Hero". While a couple may be classified as heroes and a few certainly American, and aggreeably some of the characters discussed had at least a measure of "effect" on t
Stephanie P.
The book consists of a collection of essays, many previously published, but a few new ones as well. Morgan’s goal in putting together this book was to focus on more ordinary people, so while there are chapters discussing Ben Franklin and George Washington, the majority of chapters focus on people who are probably less well known to the population at large.

If you enjoy reading about the early history of our country then you will probably enjoy this book. It is relatively short and a fairly easy a
Steven Peterson
This is an odd little book by the well-known--and respected--historian, Edmund Morgan. This is a collection of brief essays, focusing on what the author refers to as "men and women who shaped early America."

The essays really aren't tied together, but many of these are still interesting reflections that trigger the reader's reflections about subjects covered. Subjects considered run from Christopher Columbus (and his imposition of slavery on native Americans), to the Puritans of New England (e.g.
The title of this book is very deceiving. You open it believing that Morgan started this book with the intent to construct a book centering around the contributions certain people have made that then have caused them to be "heroes" in the founding of our country. Instead, he did not write the book using that premise but instead went back and picked through previously published (and unpublished) essays on varying subjects that could all be contorted to fit the definition of "hero". Many of them w ...more
Brian Andersen
I thought this was a good collection of revealing essays on Early American history by Edmund S. Morgan.
I think too much time was spent on the Puritans though and could have been devoted to other individuals.
I was especially impressed by the section on the Korbmacher Witch Hunt mob incident that occurred in 1787 in Philadelphia while 55 enlightened men were in Independence Hall debating the US Constitution. It was well covered in the local press which was at least bold enough to be on the side
This is a book of essays by Edmund Morgan, whose work I have read and enjoyed in the past. The essays in this volume that I enjoyed the most were "Dangerous Books," which discusses the donation, in 1714, of some 500 books to Yale University by such figures as Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley, and the revolution in thought that these books caused among the educated youth of New England; "The Contentious Quaker: William Penn," which made me realize how little I knew of the Quakers and the contributi ...more
This book of essays will give you information about people who helped shape the early history of the United States. Some of the essays were more interesting than others.
Bleh. Not what I was expecting, even from such an established member of the Ivory Tower Club of History Writing. :-) Some pieces mildly interesting, some tedious, many just odd. A somewhat interesting piece on the Salem Witch Trials was marred, for example, by a very odd reference to the Puritans of the time being superior to us because at least they later admitted the trials were a travesty, and no one has yet apologized for the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. HUH? No links drawn, I guess he takes it ...more
Aug 29, 2011 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs only
The title, btw, is misleading - but probably more retail-friendly than "A Bunch of Old Essays on Early American History My Agent Suckered My Publisher Into Reprinting". Snarky comment on the title aside, there's some interesting stuff in here - some real insight into the Puritan mind & society, along with an extensive essay on Ben Franklin that makes me want to read Morgan's biography of the man.

OTOH, there are other essays that haven't aged well or were never printed in the first place... a
I started reading this book and then got a feeling of deja vu. As I looked through the book and back at the Table of Contents, I realized that I had already read this book!


One of my favorite quotes in this book is when the author states that "there is no more insidious instrument of change than a library in which professors or students or people in general are allowed to read the books" when talking about books and libraries in Chapter 2.

People (in general) always assume that libraries
One of historian Edmund S. Morgan's final books, structured as a series of essays he wrote from the 1940s to the early 21st century. Collectively, they showed why Morgan was such a preeminent expert on the Colonial and Revolutionary War time periods. This book spans 200 years or so of American history so it may not go into the depth you'd find in more focused history books, but it does contain some great observations and analysis of a crucial era.
Based on the cover (I know, I know, you can't judge a book by it's cover), but still, based on its cover, I assumed this would look at our founding fathers -- Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, etc.

While the author does include Washington and Benjamin Franklin, he also includes many earlier influences -- people or otherwise!

A fascinating piece of literature relating to our country's history.
Nov 14, 2012 Sarah added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This book wasn't what I expected, but it was good none the less. It's a compilation of essays written by the author, some published previously, others not. The topics vary from the exploration of the New World, to the Salem Witch Trials and Puritan New England, and beyond. It is an interesting read, however some of the essays felt a bit repetitive and long to me.
I was required to read this over the summer for my US history course. I admit, I couldn't do more than skim it. Morgan is definitely a talented writer and knowledgable about puritans and the American revolution, but I simply couldn't get excited, or even interested, in this book. Three stars because of the author's good intentions.
Great book of wonderful essays. Lots of fun for those interested in history as well as those interested in the study of history. The title, is a bit inaccurate, but I guess "Some Famous Folks involved in Colonial and Early USA" just doesnt have the marketing pizzah.
Feb 08, 2011 Kendra added it
I actually only read about 1/3 of this book...some of it was very interesting, but in the end, it wasn't really what I was looking for. I stopped reading it to move onto a book I really wanted to read, I may or may not come back to this one in the future.
This book is broken up into essays on a variety of topics concerning Early America. I enjoyed some very much but found others to be less interesting and lengthy. I like how the author explained his thinking and I enjoyed his quotes from primary sources.
Always wise, always trying to show us how we could continue to keep America a great nation if we would look to the best of the founding fathers, from the great (Washington) to small (Giles Corey and Rebecca Esty.)
Morgan is a fantastic writer and really brings these historical players to life. A few of the essays were a tad long, but still interesting as a whole. I learned a lot about this crucial time of US history.
Steve Clark
This book touches on some lesser known lights of early American history. I could have lived without the essay on the two presidents of Yale, though. Yawn.
An excellent book with unique perspectives on early Americans. Especially good are the chapters on the Salem witch trials and the Native Americans.
Jan 16, 2009 Heather marked it as to-read
Looks fantastic! Morgan is 93 years old, a Yale U prof emeritus, Pulitzer Prize winner, etc.
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“The only way to make a library safe is to lock people out of it. As long as they are allowed to read the books 'any old time they have a mind to,' libraries will remain the nurseries of heresy and independence of thought. They will, in fact, preserve that freedom which is a far more important part of our lives than any ideology or orthodoxy, the freedom that dissolves orthodoxies and inspires solutions to the ever-changing challenges of the future. I hope that your library and mine will continue in this way to be dangerous for many years to come.” 12 likes
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