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A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History
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A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  461 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
“History in Davis’s hands is loud, coarse, painful, funny, irreverent—and memorable.”
San Francisco Chronicle

Following on his New York Times bestsellers America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, Ken Davis explores the next chapter in the country’s hidden history: the gritty first half of the 19th century, among the most tumultuous in the nation’s short
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Kenneth C. Davis rose to prominence as the author of the popular “Don’t Know Much About …” series, which was inspired by the Sam Cooke song lyric “don’t know much about history.” His most recent two books have been more ambitious efforts to continue what he had begun in his earlier books, but to do so in a more thorough and expansive manner. They could be called his “Hidden History” books.

The title of the first is “Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women & Forgotte
James (JD) Dittes
For a popular book of history, this is about as close to perfect as a one can get. Short, focused chapters, connections to present-day dilemmas, hidden villains and heroes (like John C. Fremont who really is due), Davis deserves a lot of credit here.

Davis sees echoes of 19th-century history in post-9/11 America, and he provides them without veering into polemic. As I read this, I kept thinking of "A People's History of the United States," for the way it illuminated the lives of oppressed peoples
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fundamentalism? birthers? corrupt politicians? are we doomed to repeat the past?
Kenneth C. Davis does an amazing job of making this oft-overlooked period of American history come to life by telling the story of people who, in their day, were household names, but now have diminished.
The author writes history in such an accomplished and welcoming way that the reader is drawn in and carried along by the narrative.
Davis first came to my attention as the author of "Don't Know Much About History", alm
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, own
I have to admit that I have never really enjoyed modern history much...especially U.S. history. Growing up, I always preferred ancient history: Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Israel. Most of my history books seemed incredibly dry and dull, dull, dull. Date, policies, laws, and cardboard characters.

Kenneth C. Davis does a great job of bringing history to life, making it exciting, and painting historical players in living color. He tells six tales, starting will Aaron Burr and ending wi
For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the cliches of our forebears.... We enjoy the comfort of opinion with out the discomfort of thought.
– John F. Kennedy as quoted by Kenneth Davis

Author Kenneth C. Davis does not look at the history of the United States through rose-colored glasses. This has earned him some very vocal critics and some admirers. He is the author
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History buffs who like to see how trends wax and wane over time will enjoy Kenneth Davis's comparisons. Davis (and I) were amazed at how many times in our countries early history the same names intersect in completely different places and situations.

Aaron Burr shaped our history as vice president and duelist of Alexander Hamilton; he was also the victim of an outed memo that lead to a trial for treason. The thwarting of Thomas Jefferson's claim of executive power lead to a precedent that shows t
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Giselle by: goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through goodreads first-reads!
The Author tells informative, short, mostly readable, stories of an important period of history between the American Revolution and the westward expansion. Untold tales are interesting, but the real value to me was what these tales revealed about the characters in them. Kenneth Davis did a great job of putting their lives and actions in a meaningful context.
It was interesting to read about a few events in history that are usually unknown to most readers. The mark of a great historian is the ability to relate past events to current & to make them relavent, however, I found it a little telling, that Davis relates a couple of the "negative" events only conservative (or Republican) politicians. He shows himself to be a bit of an "Obama fan" in his relating hereos & trailblazers to Obama - gee, any surprise that this author is from Vermont? I al ...more
John Kelley
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading Kenneth C Davis' A Nation Rising for its coverage of American history, its connections with today's world, and for the personalities he coveraged. One of the most interesting Americans is Jesse Benton Fremont who made her way across the Isthmus of Panama to reach her husband, or her elopment with the man she loved. Her life encompassed nearly three quarters of the 19th century and I think we need a good biography of her life. I know from reading Abraham Lincoln, she was a pest ...more
Jay Connor
For the great enemy of Truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the Myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the clichés of our fore bearers. We envy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - JFK

In many ways, the period of 1800 to 1860, while often kept in the recesses of our collective American memory, much like the crazy uncle we hope won't embarrass us at yet another family gathering, is perhaps the most tellin
Nanette Bulebosh
Jul 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davis, author of the popular "Don't Know Much About History" books, focuses on American history between 1800 and 1850, a period that is too often neglected, in his view. Using his great storytelling skills, Davis zeroes in on six different stories:
Aaron Burr's 1807 trial for treason
An Indian rising in the South in 1813
Slave revolts and mutinies, beginning with the Creole (although there's a a great explanation of General Toussaint-Louverture's leadership in the Haitian slave revolts)
The Dade Ma
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a spicy side dish of history. I was short and entertaining but it open up whole worlds of history that I know I never learned about in high school history class. The genius of of Kenneth Davis is that he presents history in a way that appeals to the part of us that loves a good story. I will never forget Davis's description of Jessie Fremont traveling across Panama to reach her husband in California. Through her story, I learned about the California gold rush and the abolitionist mo ...more
Interesting portrait of some of history's "heroes"
Very good look at how times and perceptions change, as how some who were viewed as heroes for years are now considered to be "villains"
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was good. It is a great history book that goes over people who are less known. My favorite part was the part that was on aaron burr.
Priscilla Herrington
A well-told account of the period of American history from about 1800 to 1850. Although this period is often glossed over quickly if it is taught at all in public schools, events during this time are still influencing everyday American life and politics.
Robert McCormick
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well explained book! It's amazing how much stuff they don't tell you in History class about Indian massacres! Don't even mention the Bible riots!
Larry Hostetler
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I was disappointed in this book. I expected some insight or (as the subtitle suggests) hidden history, but most of what I found was a rehash of other books I've read.

The book is comprised of six chapters, Burr's Trial, Weatherford's War, Madison's Mutiny, Dade's Promise, Morse's Code, and Jessie's Journey.

Burr's trial deals more with the backstory leading up to Aaron Burr's trial than with any "hidden" history. Perhaps little-known or misunderstood, the history is anything but hidden. Having r
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Davis covers the first 50 years of the 19th century in the United States, a period which often gets overlooked in history classes. It was a time when our country expanded enormously, acquiring vast territory from Spain, France and Mexico, growing to the South and West in eventual fulfillment of what journalists and politicians of the era referred to as our Manifest Destiny.

But the motives behind our rapid expansion in the early 1800's were often less than noble. Many, among them Henry David Tho
What I thought would be an interesting history book, entitled A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History, has turned out to be a political pundit’s adaptation of his worldview to various historical events. In other words, there is little true history on these pages.

I will admit up front that I only read the introduction and the first 61 pages – the section about Aaron Burr’s trial. (I couldn’t stomach reading any further!
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Some very interesting pieces of US history. Rather uninspiring writing.
I had to go back and re-read the introduction to remember where Davis was going with this book because the incidents are only loosely tied together in the narrative.
Davis looks at six incidents that happened between 1800 and 1850. He picks some fascinating incidents that did not make my general American history courses. Some that look at the Indians between initial colonization and the western Indian wars after the Civil Wa
Mary Sue
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kenneth takes the bare bones skeleton of American History that most of us were presented in 7-12th grades and fleshes it out without the bloating of some histories.
Aaron Burr goes from hero to vice president to duelist murder and finally looses all luster when accused of treason.
William Weatherford a mixed blood Creek, lead a rebellion against the relocation of American Indians that provided for expansion of the original states. Sadly some of the relocated tribes had almost fully adapted to the
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone that finds themselves intrigued by American history should find this one highly entertaining as well as enlightening. Covering the period between 1800 and 1850 when the colonies emerged from a struggling neophyte nation to a continent-spanning, near empire, Davis concentrates on the stories of the founders that have either gone untold or have been ignored for more mythic versions. The details of the Aaron Burr trial of 1807 would make any modern web blogger indignant with political revela ...more
Kristi Richardson
"To this Gate I give the name of 'Chrysopylae,' or Golden Gate, for the same reason that the harbor of Byzantium was called 'Chrysoceras,' or Golden Horn." - Capt. John C. Fremont

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook about little known history facts that aren’t taught in schools anymore. My only mistake was listening to this book at the same time I was taking a course on “Turning points in American History”. I hope I have not gotten the two mixed up as they both covered the same ground at
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This quick little book examines all those forgotten presidents---Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Tippecanoe and Tyler too--and some of the big stories that happened in those years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

There are some interesting chapters on things like The Panic of 1837, the Seminole Wars (the longest American war until Vietnam), the slave uprising on the Creole, the religious fanaticism of Samuel “Dot-Dash-Dot” Morse (who wrote anti-Catholic screeds under the pen name “Brutu
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an easy and generally enjoyable read by Kenneth Davis. Donning an attractive hardcover, this illustrative retelling of colorful and adventurous tales in each chapter sparked and maintained my interest from start to finish. There is a variety of fascinating characters and historically significant events to keep the chronology seamlessly moving. I especially enjoyed the included timelines before each chapter which set the stage for the forthcoming topics to be explored deeper and with an a ...more
I won this book through FirstReads.

This was a pretty easy read, and if it was fiction I'd have finished a lot sooner. However, being non-fiction, it takes me a while to process and think about the other historical events and catalysts that were happening during the given time periods. While many of the historical figures presented in this book were unfamiliar to me, I wouldn't really call this a book of "untold stories" or "hidden history." Most of the events are pretty standard high school/col
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The early history of the United States of America told in a quick breezy style (perhaps a too breezy style). Focusing on famous folks accused of treason, and slave revolts, religious riots, and problems with Native Americans - mostly items glossed over by other books dealing with this time frame.
Its a good book to set off explorations (in more detals) to those topics, and other related items - it reminds me of the importance of the relationship of Spanish Florida to 1700s Georgia and South Caro
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American history buffs
I see I need to establish a new shelf: E-books. This is my first e-book and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Perhaps if I wasn't so thrilled at how much I liked the e reader, I might not have rated this quite so highly. However, I found the writing clear, intriguing and interesting bits of americana. Several were stories I had heard a bit about but not in this much detail. Others were entirely new to me such as Jessica Fremont's journey out to California. I also enjoyed some of the debunking ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davis presents stories of American history from the first half of the 19th century. Admittedly, at least in my case, it's a period of American history which is lightly covered in our schooling, or possibly simply a part of history which I've long forgotten. We all probably remember some of the stories of Andrew Jackson and some of the Indian wars, but Davis fills in many missing details. Davis also adds details on other aspects of our history, such as the Philadelphia Bible riots, the treason ch ...more
Todd Martin
Jan 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
In A Nation Rising, Ken Davis takes a look at a few lesser known events that shaped the country, but are less rarely recounted because they don't fit the romantic and noble fiction we've constructed in place of the nation's true history. These include: manifest destiny, slavery, anti-catholic and anti-immigrant activities, and indian conflicts. He then uses modern examples to reinforce the lesson that many of the same issues that motivate people and politics today were also at work in the past. ...more
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Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Don't Know Much About® series of books and audios for adults and children. The first title in the series, Don't Know Much About® History became a New York Times bestseller in 1991 and remained on the paperback list for 35 consecutive weeks. It has since been revised several times and now has more than 1.6 million copies in print.

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