by Sukey HowardJuly 2006
In recent years, there's been an endless stream (more like a flood) of books on the Founding Fathers, including many bestsellers. I've often wondered, and I'm not alone, why we seem to have an unquenchable appetite for both their celebration and their demystification. Gordon S. Wood, the acclaimed, erudite, but highly accessible scholar of colonial and Revolutionary history explains why in Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, keenly narrated by Scott Brick. Wood offers eight engaging essays on the individual characters of the men now known as the Founding Fathers, the men Thomas Jefferson called American worthies. Because this country was founded on a set of beliefs, not on common ethnicity, language or religion, Wood suggests that the men who made these beliefs concrete, who framed our unique Constitution, remain important and central to our sense of who we are. They still seem larger than life, their time extraordinary that one moment when ideas and power, intellectualism and politics came together in a way never again duplicated in American history. How they combined those two worlds, now so far apart, and what shaped their character is ever intriguing and, as Woods says, fills us with envy and wonder. Unfortunately, we can't go back to that era, but we can try to understand it. There's much to be said for serious summer listening give it a try, get smart.