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Virtue, Valor, and Vanity [Hardcover]

Eric Burns

Price: CDN$ 29.00 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 7 2007
See the Founding Fathers as you never have before. Their ambitions, intrigues, and jealousies shaped the birth of the nation, but they overcame their foibles and imperfections to throw off the chains of tyranny and form a more perfect union. We think of them now as faces on money or statues on pedestals, and, as Burns illustrates in luminous prose, that's exactly what they wanted to be. They all possessed astonishing brilliance, but many had large egos and more than just a little vanity, especially John Adams, who never felt he received his public due and often complained in his letters about the unjust fame of his peers. Interest in the Founding Fathers has never been greater, and, more than just the life of one or two men, Virtue, Valor, & Vanity presents all of them with wisdom and candor. For example, history remembers Patrick Henry as the author of the patriotic call to arms "Give me liberty, or give me death!" but, at the beginning of his life in the public eye, he shamelessly traded integrity for renown. In this fresh, informative work, Burns brings the Founding Fathers down off their pedestals to reveal the flesh-and-blood men-vain and modest, sensitive and stubborn, brilliant and ambitious-who overcame their faults and squabbles to establish a new nation that would be a paragon of governance. For the armchair historian, here is an exciting new look at our country's origins.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1 edition (Nov. 7 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708586
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,848,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Historian and Fox News TV host Burns (Infamous Scribblers) opens his second study of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and Henry with a study of ancient Rome and perhaps the founding fathers' greatest influence, the orator, essayist, "public official and public nuisance" Cicero, who "worked at renown" and got it. While each man had his reasons and motivations, all of the founding fathers sought fame for themselves as much as they sought "a nation that would provide the greatest good and the most opportunity for as many of its citizens as possible." Burns provides personal profiles of each in the service of this thesis: Hamilton, beginning from humble roots, had a sharp temper that led to his early demise; Adams was insecure; Franklin was the problem solver and the "first true American celebrity"; Washington was even-handed and well-respected; and Jefferson was "the most famous of the group not to know what to make of his fame." Discussion of each personality with respect to ambition, vanity, modesty, jealousy, image and myth will capture the imagination of most any history buff, but will leave the casual reader with scatter-shot impressions.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting overview Jan. 20 2008
By Bobby Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Eric Burns has provided a straightforward overview of some of the behavior and writings of the founders of the American Revolution as regards the pursuit of fame and some of the accompanying concepts (e.g., vanity, modesty, myth-making). History buffs may be put off by the quick handling of certain topics (e.g., the famous Burr-Hamilton duel), but that was not the purpose of this work. History buffs may also be a bit put off by Burns' seeming to take the founders at their words at some points, seemingly unaware of the public face that it was expected would be put forward at that time (see Joanne B. Freeman's Affairs of Honor, for example), and some of the ways that the founders were writing for posterity as much as for each other. At other times, Burns seems more skeptical of the public face, and the transitions between the two stances are not always easy to follow. (There were also sometimes abrupt transitions between between the individuals being analyzed). Again, the purpose of the book was, I think, not to provide the kind of in-depth analysis the historian would seek. The reader is led through these discussions to the epilogue, where the lamentation about the ridiculous and highly damaging cult of celebirty is highlighted.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps with some insight of the Founding Fathers Sept. 10 2011
By Glenn D. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
An interesting take on some of the Founding Fathers. The strengths, the weaknesses of 9 or so. The writer took their psychological make up and broke them down to 9 or so sub components to show what made them each motivated. Benjamin Franklin and George Washington come out on top. Some of the very lesor known come off at the bottom. Fairly well researched. Not an essential read, unless one is very into the Founding Fathers."
4.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of fresh air even with the vanity Jan. 8 2014
By Newkortrane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the book and it is one of the few modern books on the Founding father's and fame that I have found. Their idea of fame and virtue is less well known nowadays but more important than ever. I only gave it 4 stars because of the Vanity in the title. Nowadays historians no matter how objective, seem to need to find fault with the founding fathers in some way. It is true that Benjamin Franklin admitted his vanity and the author makes a compelling case for vanity as a virtue. However, modern day historians seem to have a bias that's anti-American and founding fathers. So even with this fact I'm hesitant to give it 5 stars. The virtues told a long with different founding fathers was a compelling approach. I appreciated the reference to Cicero in the beginning. A must for read for every American, especially the American male!

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