Bryn Dunham's Reviews > Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood
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's review
Oct 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: owned-books, history
Read from October 18 to November 07, 2011 — I own a copy

From the Constitution's eventual ratification to the aftermath of the War of 1812, this is an epic history of the U.S. The author, Dr. Gordon S. Wood is a respected historian and professor who is a very acomplished writer of early American history and this is no exception. At 738 pages (paperback)this is a balanced to "center-left" history book, which is a little different than what I am used to but it was well done. He is definitely a pro-Jeffersonian Republican who were opposed to the Federalists like Washington, Adams, and Hamilton and it is obvious in his writing. There was a consistant tone of Washington was a great leader, but...., or Hamilton was a real promoter of national unity, but..... In addition this book spends a lot of time on "social history" such as the status of minorities and "the little people". I like learning about how society as a whole changes over time and adapts to the changing political landscape but the focus on perspectives through the various demographics was a little over-emphasized/long winded. His tone wasn't very optimistic either. Historians, in my opinion, are better when they put aside their 21st century prejudices and biases and put things into perspective that the values of society were far different in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It doesn't justify the injustices that slaves suffered or the status of minorites, but a good author can explain the facts without asserting and thus, transferring their outrage on the reader.

It was a very good read, everybody should read it as there isn't that much out there regarding this period in American history in one book. A lot things happened in these years that still affect us today.
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