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Founding Fathers: The Fight for Freedom and the Birth of American Liberty Hardcover – 6 Nov 2014

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"Kostyal successfully ties together the disparate pieces of the revolution while clarifying the its causes, course, and outcome. Supporting Kostyal's text are wonderful reproductions of colored pictures, maps, and famous letters and documents that bring to life the events of the revolution." --"Publishers Weekly"

About the Author

K. M. KOSTYAL is a longtime writer for National Geographic. She has authored books on a wide range of subjects, including war heroes and child survivors of war. The author of "Abraham Lincoln's Extraordinary Era," a former senior editor at "National Geographic "magazine and National Geographic Books, and a contributor to "National Geographic Traveler," Kostyal is the recipient of two Lowell Thomas Awards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
A Missed Opportunity 31 Oct. 2014
By James Norwood - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The strength of this attractive volume is its detailed survey of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, the title of "Founding Fathers" is misleading because the focus of the book is better conveyed in its subtitle, "The Fight for Freedom and the Birth of American Freedom." A more accurate title would have been simply, "The Revolutionary Years."

Author K. M. Kostyal has provided a detailed and well-written narrative. The abundant quotations from primary sources, including letters and documentary materials, lend the enterprise a solid scholarly foundation. At the close of the seven chapters, there are short biographical capsules of Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison. Ms. Kostyal is a fine writer and historian, as apparent in her superb book on Lincoln, which was also published by National Geographic. But in keeping with the theme of "Founding Fathers," the book's structure would have been much more compelling as seven lengthy chapters on the lives of the founders with the historical narrative condensed into short background synopses. In so doing, the book really would have addressed the content implied in its title on the lives of the founding fathers.

As it stands, the biographical overviews were so brief that it was difficult to penetrate the characters and contributions of the seven main figures. For example, it was stated that as president, Thomas Jefferson "used commerce rather than guns as a weapon against the old enemy, Britain" (p. 151). But there is no analysis of the controversy of Jefferson's embargo policy. Did the self-induced damage to the American economy inflame passions against Great Britain? Or, was the embargo successful in delaying the senseless bloodshed that eventually occurred in the inconsequential War of 1812, as ushered in by Jefferson's successor, James Madison? Was Jefferson shooting himself in the foot by the embargo? The short biographical summaries needed to be developed much more completely in order to avoid a superficial treatment of complex lives and historical events.

While the book is lavishly illustrated, the quality and selection of the illustrations is substandard when compared to the exemplary work of the National Geographic Society in other publications, especially in its outstanding books on religion. Its great tradition has been in the area of photography. Yet the vast majority of the illustrations of this book are the reproduction of old maps, paintings, and documents. I kept waiting and hoping for one of the brilliant National Geographic photographers to bring to life the great locations (Monticello, the Delaware River, Princeton, Yorktown) as they appear today. For the section discussing the Battle of Bunker Hill, the principal illustration was an old map of Boston that was nearly impossible to read. A photograph of the current site with the imposing Bunker Hill monument would have conveyed a greater sense of the geographical terrain on which this bloody encounter occurred and the historical significance of this site.

Despite the overwhelming number of specialists who collaborated on this book, the volume lacked creativity and vision. I had just completed rereading the National Geographic Society's splendid book from the 1960s entitled "Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World," and I was excited about the idea of National Geographic producing a volume on the founding fathers. But the result was an enormous disappointment. On the positive side, it was important that the editors made an attempt to keep this vital subject alive. But, there was no imagination or publishing innovation, due to the uninspired nature in which this great subject was treated.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is a great reference for people like me to have a general ... 30 Jun. 2015
By Qian Sha - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great reference for people like me to have a general idea about all the founding fathers in the history of America.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Easy reading, concise with significant illustrations. 4 Jan. 2015
By Bert R. Magnuson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great illustrations and concise narrative of the historical figures. Not only a coffee table book, but each chapter of section is easy reading with in depth background of those figures.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!!!!!!!!!! 18 Jun. 2015
By Elizabeth R. James - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic book! Well written and informative with absolutely wonderful photos and illustrations! Thank you!!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Five Stars 18 Jan. 2015
By SF Native - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful detailed book about our Founding Fathers.
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