Catalogue


A leap in the dark [electronic resource] : the struggle to create the American republic /
John Ferling.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
description
xv, 558 p. : ill., maps
ISBN
0195159241 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
isbn
0195159241 (Cloth)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
general note
Title from e-book title screen (viewed October 16, 2007).
catalogue key
7371709
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [493]-537]) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
John Ferling is Professor of History at the State University of West Georgia
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-07-01:
Many Americans today see the period from 1754 to 1801 in American history as a rational progression from British colony to the independent United States. Nothing could be further from the truth, as shown by Ferling (history, State Univ. of West Georgia; John Adams: A Life) in this account of the Founding Fathers' struggles to do what had not been done before: create a nation. Throughout, he debunks popularly held notions: Benjamin Franklin, for example, pursued reconciliation with England even as the Minutemen were marching, believing negotiation was in the best interests of the American Colonies. George Washington had more luck than skill as a military commander and trapped the British at Yorktown only after French general Rochambeau urged him to march to the Chesapeake and ensnare British general Cornwallis by land and by sea. As the fighting ended, American leaders realized that the Articles of Confederation, which bound the Colonies together during the war, was inadequate for the peace. Revolutionary leaders declared independence when they saw no other alternative but war, and they wrote the Constitution when they saw no other alternative than union led by a strong national government. Ferling's intriguing narrative is filled with stories of Americans both famous and obscure. This book should be purchased by all academic and most public libraries.-Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2004-02-01:
Ferling (Univ. of West Georgia), the author of several fine books on the era of the American Revolution (John Adams: A Life, CH, Dec'02; The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, CH, Mar'89; Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the American Revolution, CH, Jan'01), draws on a lifetime of expertise to produce the best single-volume narrative of the American Revolution available. General audiences will delight in the book's readability and will be entranced by the author's vivid depictions of the mid-to-late-18th-century US. Professional historians will marvel at Ferling's ability to clearly describe difficult concepts like republicanism and to weave interpretation into this engaging narrative. His ability as a biographer and his eye for interesting detail and anecdote are among the best assets of this superb volume. Lay readers and experienced scholars can learn much about what the principals of the period thought, and what happened to them after the Revolution. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All audiences. J. C. Arndt James Madison University
Reviews
Review Quotes
A Leap in the Dark is popular history at its best. Ferling has drawn together the research of the leading historians and woven a masterful narrative that is written with grace and flair.
"Every generation of Americans deserves a first-class history of the revolutionary era, and John Ferling has supplied it for this one. Those 2 million readers of David McCullough's John Adams, captivated by Adams's ardent patriotism and fiery opinions, will especially benefit from returning tothe subject under the firm direction of a historian with a command of the scholarship that is matched by his gifts as a writer."--Joyce Appleby, Washington Post Book World
"Every generation of Americans deserves a first-class history of therevolutionary era, and John Ferling has supplied it for this one. Those 2million readers of David McCullough's John Adams, captivated by Adams's ardentpatriotism and fiery opinions, will especially benefit from returning to thesubject under the firm direction of a historian with a command of thescholarship that is matched by his gifts as a writer."--Joyce Appleby,Washington Post Book World
Ferling delivers an engaging account of the creation of the United States
"In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling conveys the personal and contingentcharacter of public affairs by skillfully interweaving capsule biographies ofleaders into his analysis of events. His book, which stretches from the Frenchand Indian War through the inauguration of President Thomas Jefferson, suppliesa learned and readable narrative of American politics during a crucial era inthe nation's history."--Richard Brown, University of Connecticut
"In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling conveys the personal and contingent character of public affairs by skillfully interweaving capsule biographies of leaders into his analysis of events. His book, which stretches from the French and Indian War through the inauguration of President ThomasJefferson, supplies a learned and readable narrative of American politics during a crucial era in the nation's history."--Richard Brown, University of Connecticut
John Ferling has here proved himself the master narrator of this great political tale.
John Ferling's study of the early United States A Leap into the Dark, is solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential stories and figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the origin of some current civic problems ... His book provides not just political and intellectual history, but emotional history as well.
"Many Americans today see the period from 1754 to 1801 in American history as a rational progression from British colony to the independent United States. Nothing could be further from the truth, as shown by Ferling in this account of the Founding Fathers' struggles to do what had not beendone before: create a nation. Throughout, he debunks popularly held notions.... Ferling's intriguing narrative is filled with stories of Americans both famous and obscure."--Library Journal
"Many Americans today see the period from 1754 to 1801 in American historyas a rational progression from British colony to the independent United States.Nothing could be further from the truth, as shown by Ferling in this account ofthe Founding Fathers' struggles to do what had not been done before: create anation. Throughout, he debunks popularly held notions.... Ferling's intriguingnarrative is filled with stories of Americans both famous and obsure."--LibraryJournal
"Questions about the establishment of the American Union are the focalpoint of this traditionally fashioned political history of Revolutionary Americathat moves gracefully from the period of the Seven Years' War through thepresidential election of 1800. [Ferling] capably describesthe emergence of thenewfound republican political order. Present[s] the various politicalachievements of the American Revolution in a highly engaging fashion, making fora study that deserves a large reading audience."--James Kirby Martin, TheHistorian, University of Houston
"Questions about the establishment of the American Union are the focal point of this traditionally fashioned political history of Revolutionary America that moves gracefully from the period of the Seven Years' War through the presidential election of 1800. [Ferling] capably describestheemergence of the newfound republican political order. Present[s] the various political achievements of the American Revolution in a highly engaging fashion, making for a study that deserves a large reading audience."--James Kirby Martin, The Historian, University of Houston
"Solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential stories and figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the origin of some current civic problems.... His book provides not just political and intellectual history, but emotional history aswell."--Christian Science Monitor
"Solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential storiesand figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the originof some current civic problems.... His book provides not just political andintellectual history, but emotional history as well."--Christian ScienceMonitor
"The author's prose is smooth, but spellbinding. He brings to life theflinty, cross-grained Alexander Hamilton, the acute and enduring thoughts ofJohn Adams, and some minor characters not found in most history books.... Mr.Ferling has written several books on the Revolutionary period, but A Leap in theDark may well be his masterpiece."--Dallas Morning News
"The author's prose is smooth, but spellbinding. He brings to life the flinty, cross-grained Alexander Hamilton, the acute and enduring thoughts of John Adams, and some minor characters not found in most history books.... Mr. Ferling has written several books on the Revolutionary period, but ALeap in the Dark may well be his masterpiece."--Dallas Morning News
"This book moves like a bottle rocket."--Kansas City Star
"This book moves like a bottle rocket."--Kansas City Star "Every generation of Americans deserves a first-class history of the revolutionary era, and John Ferling has supplied it for this one. Those 2 million readers of David McCullough's John Adams, captivated by Adams's ardent patriotism and fiery opinions, will especially benefit from returning to the subject under the firm direction of a historian with a command of the scholarship that is matched by his gifts as a writer."--Joyce Appleby, Washington Post Book World "This deft account of the American struggle for independence dispels the aura of inevitability that usually surrounds such histories by beginning its narrative not on the verge of the Revolution but twenty years earlier.... Ferling vividly evokes the political turmoil of the post-Revolutionary years. Even as he takes the Founders off their pedestals, their accomplishments only gain in stature."--The New Yorker "Solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential stories and figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the origin of some current civic problems.... His book provides not just political and intellectual history, but emotional history as well."--Christian Science Monitor "In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling conveys the personal and contingent character of public affairs by skillfully interweaving capsule biographies of leaders into his analysis of events. His book, which stretches from the French and Indian War through the inauguration of President Thomas Jefferson, supplies a learned and readable narrative of American politics during a crucial era in the nation's history."--Richard Brown, University of Connecticut
"This book moves like a bottle rocket."-- Kansas City Star "Every generation of Americans deserves a first-class history of the revolutionary era, and John Ferling has supplied it for this one. Those 2 million readers of David McCullough's John Adams , captivated by Adams's ardent patriotism and fiery opinions, will especially benefit from returning to the subject under the firm direction of a historian with a command of the scholarship that is matched by his gifts as a writer."--Joyce Appleby, Washington Post Book World "This deft account of the American struggle for independence dispels the aura of inevitability that usually surrounds such histories by beginning its narrative not on the verge of the Revolution but twenty years earlier.... Ferling vividly evokes the political turmoil of the post-Revolutionary years. Even as he takes the Founders off their pedestals, their accomplishments only gain in stature."-- The New Yorker "Solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential stories and figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the origin of some current civic problems.... His book provides not just political and intellectual history, but emotional history as well."-- Christian Science Monitor "In A Leap in the Dark , John Ferling conveys the personal and contingent character of public affairs by skillfully interweaving capsule biographies of leaders into his analysis of events. His book, which stretches from the French and Indian War through the inauguration of President Thomas Jefferson, supplies a learned and readable narrative of American politics during a crucial era in the nation's history."--Richard Brown, University of Connecticut
"This book moves like a bottle rocket."--Kansas City Star "Every generation of Americans deserves a first-class history of the revolutionary era, and John Ferling has supplied it for this one. Those 2 million readers of David McCullough'sJohn Adams, captivated by Adams's ardent patriotism and fiery opinions, will especially benefit from returning to the subject under the firm direction of a historian with a command of the scholarship that is matched by his gifts as a writer."--Joyce Appleby,Washington Post Book World "This deft account of the American struggle for independence dispels the aura of inevitability that usually surrounds such histories by beginning its narrative not on the verge of the Revolution but twenty years earlier.... Ferling vividly evokes the political turmoil of the post-Revolutionary years. Even as he takes the Founders off their pedestals, their accomplishments only gain in stature."--The New Yorker "Solid history that will refresh anyone's memory of the essential stories and figures in America's founding. And it will enlighten anyone about the origin of some current civic problems.... His book provides not just political and intellectual history, but emotional history as well."--ChristianScience Monitor "InA Leap in the Dark, John Ferling conveys the personal and contingent character of public affairs by skillfully interweaving capsule biographies of leaders into his analysis of events. His book, which stretches from the French and Indian War through the inauguration of President Thomas Jefferson, supplies a learned and readable narrative of American politics during a crucial era in the nation's history."--Richard Brown, University of Connecticut
"This deft account of the American struggle for independence dispels theaura of inevitability that usually surrounds such histories by beginning itsnarrative not on the verge of the Revolution but twenty years earlier....Ferling vividly evokes the political turmoil of the post-Revolutionary years.Even as he takes the Founders off their pedestals, their accomplishments onlygain in stature."--The New Yorker
"This deft account of the American struggle for independence dispels the aura of inevitability that usually surrounds such histories by beginning its narrative not on the verge of the Revolution but twenty years earlier.... Ferling vividly evokes the political turmoil of the post-Revolutionaryyears. Even as he takes the Founders off their pedestals, their accomplishments only gain in stature."--The New Yorker
This is an account loaded with facts but unburdened by them; the result is a book that never gets bogged down. A gifted biographer, the author interrupts his narrative to introduce the major figures as each comes on the stage, bringing the history of these times to life with vivid descriptions and artful analyses of the interplay of men, their interests and their ideas.
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, June 2003
Library Journal, July 2003
Choice, February 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
A sweeping narrative of the birth of the American republic in the years from 1750 to 1800, this account traces the course of the revolutionary war & of the political struggles which beset the new nation, as it debated the constitution & developed a robust party political system.
Long Description
It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations. In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark." Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness of revolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson. Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve the political and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians--the founders--played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes, this book demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution. John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer. A Leap in the Dark is his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.
Main Description
It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its freshinterpretations. In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to GreatBritain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark."Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle betweenFederalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness ofrevolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson. Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve thepolitical and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians--the founders--played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes,this book demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution. John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer. A Leap in the Dark is his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.
Main Description
It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations. InA Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark." Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness of revolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson. Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve the political and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians--the founders--played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes, this book demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution. John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer.A Leap in the Darkis his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.
Unpaid Annotation
In "A Leap in the Dark, " Ferling offers a magisterial new history of the American Revolution that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details in a work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Mapsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1754-1763 "Join, or Die"p. 1
1763-1766 "A Loss of Respect and Affection"p. 23
1766-1770 "To Crush the Spirit of the Colonies"p. 53
1770-1774 "The Cause of Boston Now Is the Cause of America"p. 87
1775-1776 "To Die Freemen Rather Than to Live Slaves"p. 123
1776-1777 "A Leap Into the Dark"p. 167
1778-1782 "This Wilderness of Darkness & Dangers"p. 209
1783-1787 "The Present Paroxysm of Our Affairs"p. 247
1787-1789 "So Much Unanimity and Good Will"p. 281
1790-1793 "Prosperous at Home, Respectable Abroad"p. 315
1793-1796 "A Colossus to the Antirepublican Party"p. 355
1797-1799 "A Game Where Principles Are the Stake"p. 405
1799-1801 "The Gigg Is Up"p. 451
1801 "An Age of Revolution and Reformation"p. 477
Abbreviationsp. 489
Notesp. 493
Indexp. 539
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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