10 teosta 240 jäsentä 6 arvostelua

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Thomas A. Foster is Professor of History at DePaul University. He is the editor of New Men: Manliness in Early America (NYU Press, 2011).

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A bit repetitive, but overall an interesting study of male sexuality and its social contexts in eighteenth-century Massachusetts (and more broadly extensible at least to a certain extent). Limited in scope, but it seems to be well-researched.
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JBD1 | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 16, 2017 |
"If you want to actually know about the sex lives of the Founding Fathers, you're welcome to try to read between the lines of their correspondence and come to your own conclusions (inevitably colored by your own perceptions) just like every previous biographer has done as Foster points out"
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mongoosenamedt | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 28, 2015 |
Sex and the Founding Fathers does not directly deal with sex and the founding fathers, as you might expect. Instead the author examines how people have remembered the founding fathers and their sex lives throughout history. He argues that how we view the founding fathers says something about our values. We like to imagine that the founding fathers were paragons of virtue. How we remember them shows what we think an ideal American should be like.

I was quite excited to start this book. However, the book I expected was actually about the founding fathers, with commentary on their biographies on the side. I also expected some good narrative non-fiction from the parts describing the founding fathers. This book met neither of those expectations. Instead of talking directly about the founding fathers, the author only describes them through the medium of other biographies. At times, this degenerated into lists of quotes from other biographies, which could get quite dry. The organization was a bit iffy as well. Organizing by topic was a wise choice, but the author didn’t always stay on topic. He repeated himself quite a bit, both between topics and between founding fathers.

Despite the dry tone and disorienting organization, I still could have liked this book if the topic was handled well. However, the author is constantly making sweeping assertions about the type of biographies published at different times. He only supports these assertions with cherry picked examples. If he wants to make broad claims, he needs to support them with numbers. For instance, he claims that more biographies considered the possibility Washington was infertile once infertility became a prevalent social problem. In that case, a greater percentage of published biographies should begin to include that possibility. Just sharing a few examples of such biographies tells me nothing. Alternately, the author could have added scholarly acumen to his book by sharing the truth of the founding father’s lives, instead of just sharing what previous biographers have claimed. In the absence of any scholarly contribution, it’s hard to overlook the fact that this just wasn’t an entertaining read. I had high hopes for this book going in, but I find myself unable to recommend it.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.
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DoingDewey | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 29, 2014 |
Titillating title, coquettish cover, and yet, as I read on, my enthusiasm became, well, rather flaccid.

I loved the idea of this book, and the reason for it: "Unlike contemporary sex-scandalized politicians who can be removed from office and disappear from public view, we are stuck with the Founding Fathers. They are going nowhere, and so we rewrite and respin and reremember them in various ways to present them in a positive light."

I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this selection of six Founding Fathers: George Washington, Father of our Country - and yet, a stepfather only, not a father of children he sired (or was he?). Thomas Jefferson, chaste widower - or interracial love pioneer - or despicable child rapist? John Adams - was his marriage with Abigail a thing blessed, or not as golden as often presented. Benjamin Franklin - degenerate, or foxy grandpa? Alexander Hamilton, confessed adulterer - was he also a lover of at least one man? Gouverneur Morris (wrote the preamble to the Constitution, plus many other sections, Senator, diplomat), did not let a severely scarred body nor a missing leg keep him from being a total "rake."

What I didn't love was that this was a historiography, mostly quotes of others who've written biographies of these men over time. And that would've worked for me, too, except that rather than peeling back layers of the onion, little by little: Here's how recent biographers cover Washington's sex life and virility, and why I think they did it that way; here's how the ones before covered it, and on back to the original documents, it is more of a chopped onion approach. All the information is there, but time periods felt jumbled together. There wasn't a clear progression from current day to the past, or vice versa, seeing how other layers built upon what had come before. There was a lot of information that the author assumed readers already knew. If there was a take-away message (other than that the American "take" on sexuality in its leaders is something that is every changing), said message went over my head.

This book may be invaluable for Serious Historians; I'm a dabbler, having only read perhaps a dozen of the hundreds of historical biographies and articles referenced. IMO, if you are NOT already a history buff, you might be better served to learn about these men else.

For myself, the combination of dry sex does not lead to a happy climax.

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writerbeverly | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 1, 2014 |


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