John's Reviews > Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815
by Gordon S. Wood
by Gordon S. Wood
Oct 14, 2012
Recommended to John by: I found its appeal on zmazon.com
Recommended for: Anyone who questions today's commentary on principles of our founding fathers.
Read from April 03 to October 13, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1
I liken the time it must have taken for Professor Wood to write this book to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. Unlike gobbling such, this is a savoring read that is easily digested and worthy of compliment to the chef through thorough mastication. Insight into John Adams was enlightening, and now I'm struck by how the Federalist washout gave Thomas Jefferson a free hand in governing on a scale much larger than his somewhat covert scheming in Virginia. With most of the citizens running amuck with the new president's ideals of personal liberty, Jefferson's use of political savvy in playing the European powers against each other -resulting in a massive expansion of U.S. real estate- transcends his concern for the dignity of farmers and becomes more grandiose, revealing a different aspect of his character. This book is more than a narrative on presidents; it is a feast in history, a comprehensive spread of social, economic, and political developments that mix present day values like gravy swirled into mashed potatoes. There are several descriptive chapters that precede the next to the last (War of 1812) that blend cultural outcomes in the republic during most of Jefferson's presidency and some of Madison's that after reading cued me to take a breath-taking pause before proceeding with his coverage of the war. Whereas my interest in specific battle coverage is typically overshadowed by my preference for causes and results, Professor Wood's engagement of war development is consistent with that of his political and cultural formulations, which credit victors in the successful campaigns without dramatizing winning or losing fronts. I was especially struck by the privateers' assistance to the American Navy, wondering how this sea-faring militia contrasts with contemporary private armed forces contractors; and fascinated by how the trade disputes leading to the war remained unresolved, yet established our country on equal footing with European powers to eventually become a beacon of hope for those who emigrated here for the economic opportunities exclusively provided by a democratic republic form of government.
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