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Publisher's Summary

This classic work explains the evolution of American political thought from the Declaration of Independence to the ratification of the Constitution. In so doing, it greatly illuminates the origins of the present American political system.

©1998 The University of North Carolina Press (P)2018 Tantor

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  • BigWally
  • 22-11-2018

This Audible book is NOT for a popular audience!

I have read or listened to many of Professor Gordon Wood's many books about early America. They have have, almost without exception, been very enjoyable, and I have learned a great deal from them. (One of my interests in retirement is reading history books written for a popular audience not for specialists, grad students, scholars, et.al.) Alas, THE CREATION OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC 1776-1787, is definitely not written for a popular audience. It is really intended for history graduate students, legal scholars, history professors, et.al.

It really pains me to offer a negative evaluation of this book as I so admire Dr. Wood. I guess the fault was my own for not investigating the book more thoroughly before purchasing it.

I can strongly endorse his books written for folks like me who want to know the history but not all the minutiae, complicated ideas, etc. Books such as THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, REVOLUTIONARY CHARACTERS,THE RADICALISM OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, and EMPIRE OF LIBERTY are just terrific reads, and I can endorse them unequivocally.

THE CREATION OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC 1776-1787 is just far too complicated for me. Listener beware!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 21-10-2020

The evolution of revolutionary thought.

Wood's 1969 monograph on the intellectual evolution of thought among the Founding Fathers to the Framers is a thorough and intellectually stimulating history that's sometimes drier than sand. Wood does a wonderful job tracing the development of revolutionary and constitutional thought as Founders and Framers countered and contradicted themselves on issues from representation/democracy, monarchism/aristocracy, unitary/divided government and how they wanted their new government to function.

Probably the most fascinating aspect of this history is that while the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were revolutionary documents/reactions to British oppression (perceived and actual), the Constitution was a fundamentally conservative document that recognized that the Articles probably went a little too far in eschewing anything that smacked of Albion.

While the revolutionary documents centered on the supremacy of the legislatures as representatives of the people and the Founders, on many levels, thought that legislatures could do no wrong -- the Framers took a very different approach and derided the selfishness of "the people" both individually and collectively through their various state legislatures. This spurred a desire for a government that tried to more intentionally embrace "the public good" and more importantly, those men of good public standing that could pursue it (i.e. natural aristocracy). This resulted in a more open embrace of the faults and natural limitations of the people and an affirmative attempt to check those impulses through the structure of the new Constitution.

This contrast, the evolution of thought that led to it in only 10 years between the Framers and Founders is really what makes this a great intellectual history.

That being said, because this is a intellectual history, it's broken up by subject areas rather than a chronological narrative and reads very dryly at times. So as an engaging history it leaves something to be desired, but as an indispensable reference to thematic areas of philosophical thought among the Framers and Founders, it's invaluable.

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