"What would the founders think? We live in a divided America that is currently incapable of sustained argument and is feeling unsure of its destiny. Joseph J. Ellis, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers and the recent best-selling The Quartet, explores anew four of our most prominent founders, in each instance searching for patterns and principles that bring the lamp of experience to our contemporary dilemmas. Ellis discusses Thomas Jefferson and racism, John Adams and economic inequality, James Madison and constitutional law, George Washington and foreign policy. Just as the founders went back to the Greek and Roman classics for seasoned wisdom in their time, Ellis takes us back to America's founders, our classics. In his compelling narrative voice, Ellis confronts the obstacles blocking discussions about our emerging multiracial society, the inherent inequalities of a global economy, the original meaning of the founders' words, and the impossible obligations confronting the one superpower once the moral certainties provided by the Cold War have disappeared. Ellis reminds us that the founders' greatest legacy lies not in providing political answers but in helping us find a better way to frame the question."--Dust jacket.
"The author of the best-selling The Founding Brothers and The Quartet now gives us a deeply insightful examination of the relevance of Jefferson's, Madison's, and Adams's views to some of the most divisive issues in American politics and society today. The story of history is a ceaseless conversation between past and present, and in American Dialogue, Joseph Ellis uses the perspective of the present to shed light on the views of the Founding Fathers. Examining four of the most seminal historical figures through the prism of particular topics, he makes clear how their now centuries-old ideas illuminate the disturbing impasse of today's political conflicts. He discusses Jefferson and the issue of racism, Adams and the specter of economic inequality, Washington and American imperialism, Madison and the doctrine of original intent. Through these juxtapositions--and in his hallmark dramatic and compelling narrative voice--Ellis illuminates the obstacles and pitfalls paralyzing contemporary discussions of these fundamentally important issues"--
We live in a divided America that is currently incapable of sustained argument and is feeling unsure of its destiny. Ellis shows how the founders went back to the Greek and Roman classics for seasoned wisdom in their time, and now he takes us back to our classics: America's founders. In discussing Thomas Jefferson and racism, John Adams and economic inequality, James Madison and constitutional law, George Washington and foreign policy, Ellis reminds us that the founders' greatest legacy lies not in providing political answers, but in helping us find a better way to frame the question. -- adapted from jacket.
Preface: My self-evident truth -- RACE. Then: Thomas Jefferson ; Now: Abiding backlash -- EQUALITY. Then: John Adams ; Now: Our gilded age -- LAW. Then: James Madison ; Now: Immaculate misconceptions -- ABROAD. Then: George Washington ; Now: At peace with war -- Epilogue: Leadership
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