Tag Archives: Joseph J. Ellis

Book Review – The Quartet

The Quartet book coverThe Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis’ new book looks at what he terms “the second American Revolution,” bringing thirteen disparate states into one United States through the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Ellis postulates that it was four men, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, who were instrumental in bringing about the Constitutional Convention and subsequent ratification of American nationhood. Ellis paints a profound picture of the obstacles that “the quartet” faced in turning states very much focused on their own issues and just finished fighting a strong central government structure into accepting a national republic. Just as in his previous book, Revolutionary Summer, which detailed the incredible circumstances surrounding the beginning of the war for independence, Ellis uses straightforward prose to discuss a dramatic, complicated and precarious time in American history. By all accounts, the fact that the United States just celebrated its 240th birthday is astonishing and truly impressive.

Book Review – Revolutionary Summer

Revolutionary SummerRevolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis

Review: This book covers both American political and military maneuvers from May through October 1776 using straightforward prose. Mr. Ellis tells a dramatic story of how political and military interconnectedness contributed to the birth of the United States. More than a little luck was involved in the first few months of the American war for independence. Everything seemed to be lined up just right to help the new republic survive. King George III prematurely dispatched thousands of troops leading the colonists to abandon any remaining hopes of a diplomatic solution creating a unanimous resolve for independence. The overconfident British military more than once allowed the Continental army to escape to fight another day rather than wiping it out for a swift decisive victory. This turned out to be a major blunder as General Washington’s forces were never as vulnerable as in that summer of 1776. Even in the face of series of defeats and retreats, the Continental Congress remained irrationally committed to their revolutionary cause. I recommend this book for anyone who likes American history or anyone looking for an appropriate read this Independence Day.