Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture” as Want to Read:
After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  161 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews

Through portraits of four figures—Charles Willson Peale, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, William Dunlap, and Noah Webster—Joseph Ellis provides a unique perspective on the role of culture in post-Revolutionary America, both its high expectations and its frustrations.

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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about After the Revolution, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about After the Revolution

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
David Kopec
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it

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
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
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Fraser Sherman
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history enthusiasts
Shelves: textbooks, history
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.
John E
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book. Simple thesis and well written and well documented history of the cultural ideas of the immediate post-American Revolutionary period.
Rick Cheeseman
Eh. Kinda boring.
Tony Laplume
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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...
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on, borrowed

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.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
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!
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
This is important information to know, but it is a slow read. I used it like Nyquil, but I read it.
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Not my area of interest, however, it was interesting to learn.
rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2013
rated it it was ok
Jan 13, 2009
John Romaniello
rated it it was amazing
Nov 25, 2013
rated it liked it
Jul 04, 2011
rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2012
rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2013
rated it it was ok
Feb 20, 2012
سمي يوسف
rated it liked it
Oct 18, 2015
rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2014
Robert H. Hamilton
rated it it was amazing
Jan 30, 2017
Adam Tressler
rated it really liked it
May 21, 2011
rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2009
Eric Johnston
rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2016
rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2007
rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Nov 30, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Foxfire 12
  • The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
  • Thomas Paine and the Promise of America
  • Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
  • The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence
  • Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders & How They Changed America 1789-1989
  • The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History 1775-1865
  • Coming to America: The Story of Immigration
  • Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America
  • The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown
  • Young Patriots: The Remarkable Story of Two Men, Their Impossible Plan, and the Revolution That Created the Constitution
  • Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power
  • The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s
  • The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents
  • Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World
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...