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What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions,…

What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2006; vuoden 2006 painos)

Tekijä: Richard Brookhiser

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
270593,222 (3.07)3
Where are the Founders when we need them? Here.
Teoksen nimi:What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers
Kirjailijat:Richard Brookhiser
Info:Perseus Books Group (2006), Hardcover, 261 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):


What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers (tekijä: Richard Brookhiser) (2006)

  1. 00
    What Would the Founders Say?: A Patriot's Answers to America's Most Pressing Problems (tekijä: Larry Schweikart) (HistReader)
    HistReader: A look at modern day social and political problems through the eyes of the Founding Fathers, by way of their writings.

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näyttää 5/5
As the truism asserts, a book cannot be judged by the appearance of its cover. Yet, it can give a potential read a pretty good idea of its contents.

Upon closer inspection of the dust jacket of "What Would the Founders Do?", the image encapsulates Richard Brookhiser's writing style perfectly. Although the cover is more subtle than his frequent tongue-in-cheek one liners or witty references to contemporary political similarities, the painting which graces the cover is just as witty and anachronistic as his writing.

A closer inspection of the cover reveals true-to-life depictions of the Founding Fathers which goes to Brookhiser's use of quotes and passages to buttress his contentions. Each of the five men toasting to an unknown celebration hold entirely different libations; no doubt chose to personify the author's perception of the monumental men. And lastly, with only the closest of inspection modern paraphernalia are recognized in the background; neon lights alerting patrons to the exit or advertising "premium beer." Amongst the 18th century banter and politics Brookhiser references, he interjects modern day equivalencies and comparisons.

"What Would the Founders Do?" is a great book for those just delving into the birth of America's republic. These were men who were altruistic yet selfish at times; they were honest but hypocritical as well; they were proponents of the belief that 'all men are created equal' while holding slaves; each of them wished for a free citizenry but could not agree on how much government should play a role in personal independence. They were, after all, men; a few downplayed being placed on a pedestal, others saw themselves as demigods.

I found some of the information, including entire sections, a bit short on true investigation of what the group of men might say about a certain modern topic. Yet, Thomas Paine, as Brookhiser illustrates in this book, took apart the biblical philosophy to point out its hypocrisy. The Bible's subjects cannot be summoned to get their intentions or explain points of contention. Proponents and opponents alike use biblical passages and references to prove both sides of the same point. The same can be said for the use of Founding Father quotes to address modern ills like WMDs, intelligent design, and campaign finance laws.

Overall, this book was as easily understood as it was readable. The use of au courant references brings the reader to recognize Richard Brookhiser's understanding of Founding Fathers. ( )
  HistReader | Dec 21, 2011 |
The 2008 democratic and republican primaries have absolutely riveted me. I am a fan of politics and political history, just check out the rest of the library. Most of my reading has been in the post World War II era of politics but I have always been fascinated with the building of our country, it's laws and it's political system. I looked forward to reading this one with great anticipation.

I was glad to find the author treated the subject with a bit of a sense of humor, as the folly of politics makes me giggle very frequently, when I am not shaking my head in disgust. That disgust and merriment usually come from the same frustration over modern politics, the fighting, the disagreements, and the partisanship. How surprised was I to find the same things, and sometimes worse, existed at the founding of our nation.

The idea for this book is very appealing. What would some of the smartest and most important people in our nation's history think about some of our greatest issues. I found the answers somewhat confusing on occasion and, sometimes, I was frustrated to find there was no answer because these men were of very different minds.

So, on balance, though I didn't get solid answers on a lot of issues, what I got was a window into the founder's thinking and principles. I also realized that our system of politics and laws, however flawed, is great because it allows for such varying positions and beliefs from the whole range of our populus, whether learned or ignorant, whether esteemed or invisible. Likely, this was the point of the book, to dethrone the founders a bit, as they would have wanted, and showcase the wonderful system rather than showcase them. Their handiwork is the important thing, not which of them felt a certain way about a certain issue. ( )
  blackdogbooks | Mar 31, 2008 |
Brookhiser attempts to address modern-day issues in light of the writings of America's Founding Fathers to see how they would have approached or responded to those issues. In some areas he succeeds; however, far more often, his conclusions are drawn far too quickly. Moreover, it frequently felt as if Brookhiser were only skimmer the surface of both the Founding Fathers' writings and the issues themselves. Perhaps, Brookhiser was trying to write a simple, broadly appealing book. Unfortunately, in doing so, he missed the opportunity to delve more deeply into the issues and ideas that he set out to examine. ( )
1 ääni MSWallack | Aug 25, 2007 |
What COULD The Founders Do Now?

Richard Brookhiser has put together a very quick reading book detailing many of the Founder's thoughts and contrasting them with today's issues in "What Would the Founders Do?-- Our Questions, Their Answers".

To the more well read reader on the history of the founding of the country, little of this book will be in any way new. But, I'd suggest this book is a fantastic handbook for young readers past the age of 15. Young students would do themselves well to read this book and become familiar with some of the things the Founders thought and some of the situations they faced. They will find it in an easy to read and understand format, free of too much boring background, dates and historiocity. But, this handy book should also tend to help inform all people who are only dimly aware of what the Founders intended for our country and might help answer not only why the Founders are still relevant but might help teach many of the ideals that this country was formed upon.

Unfortunately, it might also tend to make some people who claim that the Founders era is past and now irrelevant more sure that their world is long past and we that we therefore should "moveon"... excuse the pun. Of course, no sense can get through to someone who thinks this way anyway, I'd guess.

The one thing that I don't "get" with this book, though, is the last sort of comical bit about the "Founder's Blogs". This is four pages of humorous asides about what the Founders might put in a blog should they still be around. I have to say, I just don't understand what this is doing in this book? I suppose they are sort of clever, but this chapter just doesn't seem relevant to the rest of the book at all. It seems more like something that Brookhiser should have on his website as opposed to ending his book with.

Still, I say this is a great book for the young. Get one for every teen in your family. It'll do them good since we don't seem to have any schools that teach such stuff anymore! Kudos to Brookhiser for a quick, fun read that might help our youth. ( )
  WarnerToddHuston | Apr 7, 2007 |
Journalist Rick Brookhiser's biographies of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, the Adams family, and Gouverneur Morris are all quite good, if limited, treatments of their subjects. Unfortunately his latest book, What Would the Founders Do? Our Questions, Their Answers fails to compare favorably in almost any way with Brookhiser's earlier works.

First of all, I should say at the outset that I wholeheartedly agree with Brookhiser when he writes on pages 4-5 "In moments of struggle, farce, or disaster, the founders are still with us. We look to them for slogans, cheap shots, inspiration, and instruction. We seize on them for sleazy advantage and for moral guidance. We ransack what they said and did for clues to what they would, and what we should, do." It is true that all those things are done ... what is up for debate is whether they should be done. Brookhiser continues toward the end of his introduction (page 10): "All their lives they had to say what they would do. So why should they get a rest when we need a little advice?"

Here's a simple reason why. The founders of our government did not live in twenty-first century America. They could not possibly in their wildest dreams have imagined that the fruits of their labors would result in today's United States ... or even that the Constitution they put in place would have lasted as long as it has. It is little short of ridiculous to attempt, as Brookhiser does, to put words in the mouths of the Framers (a term I prefer to founders) on topics such as stem cell research, Social Security, gay rights, or the federal reponse to natural disasters.

This book is a collection of short essays in the form of responses, usually drawing on one or two quotations from any of the rather large pool of potential sources at Brookhiser's disposal. It is selective at the best of times (i.e. when it tackles questions that the Framers actually dealt with, like the death penalty, censorship, partisanship or the separation of church and state) vacuous at others (weapons of mass destruction, the war on drugs, drilling in ANWR). Sometimes he allows his questions to go entirely unanswered, apparently being unable to muster even the scantiest of evidence in one direction or the other (oddly one of these is his section on terrorism, for which he simply discusses guerilla tactics during the Revolutionary War; I can think of several appropriate examples of possible citations for this topic, from Indian massacres to slave revolts to the French Revolution).

Brookhiser's cliched, glib quips and infinitely broad generalizations overpower any sense of reasoned discussion this book could have offered. Comparing Alexander Hamilton's description of an eighteenth-century hurricane to that of "a youthful Anderson Cooper" (page 48) seems frivolous, and his statement on page 51 that "The founders who framed the Constitution believed that the national government needed more power" is severely in need of qualification.

A couple more quibbles: I found Brookhiser's pseudo-appendix "Founderblogs" (a selection of putative blogs written by the Framers) obnoxious and trite. Leave the faux humor out of it, Rick, you're no Jon Stewart. And finally, Brookhiser's lazy excuse for not including footnotes ("The founders used footnotes sparingly") is downright lame. To be fair, he does cite direct quotations, but give me a break.

This book's conclusion, after all the fluff and nonsense, somehow manages to be sound: "What we can always take from the founders," Brookhiser writes on 218-219, "whether we are honoring the letter of their law, or improvising madly, as they sometimes did, is a style of thought, a way of working, a stance. We can be as intelligent as they were, and as serious; as practical, and as brave. We can know as much as they did, and work as hard. We can compromise when we have to, and kill when we must. We can; as they said, all men are created equal." I have no problem with most of those statements (except I think "compromise when we have to" is inappropriately harsh), but I wish that Brookhiser had taken his own advice.

We (and particularly writers as talented as Brookhiser) should not be in the business of trying to extrapolate vague out-of-body pronouncements from those who came before us; we must, rather, think through today's problems ourselves, just as they did. Sure we may get it wrong sometimes ... so did they. That's the nature of the beast. But today's questions are our own, and we must deal with them on our terms. Please, all you authors out there, let this be the last book of its kind. And Mr. Brookhiser, I humbly implore, go back to biography, it's what you do best - you simply don't contain the makings of a medium.

http://chargingrino.blogspot.com/2006/06/book-review-what-would-founders-do.html ( )
  JBD1 | Jun 4, 2006 |
näyttää 5/5
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