First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

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First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
Title First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
Author
Publisher Harper
Release DateNovember 10, 2020
Category New Release
Total Pages 416 pages
ISBN 0062997459
Book Rating 4.1 out of 5 from 15 reviews
Language EN, ES, BE, DA ,DE , NL and FR
Book Review & Summary:

"Ricks knocks it out of the park with this jewel of a book. On every page I learned something new. Read it every night if you want to restore your faith in our country." — James Mattis, General, U.S. Marines (ret.) & 26th Secretary of Defense The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a revelatory new book about the founding fathers, examining their educations and, in particular, their devotion to the ancient Greek and Roman classics—and how that influence would shape their ideals and the new American nation. On the morning after the 2016 presidential election, Thomas Ricks awoke with a few questions on his mind: What kind of nation did we now have? Is it what was designed or intended by the nation’s founders? Trying to get as close to the source as he could, Ricks decided to go back and read the philosophy and literature that shaped the founders’ thinking, and the letters they wrote to each other debating these crucial works—among them the Iliad, Plutarch’s Lives, and the works of Xenophon, Epicurus, Aristotle, Cato, and Cicero. For though much attention has been paid the influence of English political philosophers, like John Locke, closer to their own era, the founders were far more immersed in the literature of the ancient world. The first four American presidents came to their classical knowledge differently. Washington absorbed it mainly from the elite culture of his day; Adams from the laws and rhetoric of Rome; Jefferson immersed himself in classical philosophy, especially Epicureanism; and Madison, both a groundbreaking researcher and a deft politician, spent years studying the ancient world like a political scientist. Each of their experiences, and distinctive learning, played an essential role in the formation of the United States. In examining how and what they studied, looking at them in the unusual light of the classical world, Ricks is able to draw arresting and fresh portraits of men we thought we knew. First Principles follows these four members of the Revolutionary generation from their youths to their adult lives, as they grappled with questions of independence, and forming and keeping a new nation. In doing so, Ricks interprets not only the effect of the ancient world on each man, and how that shaped our constitution and government, but offers startling new insights into these legendary leaders.

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New York Times Bestseller Editors' Choice —New York Times Book Review "Ricks knocks it out of the park with this jewel of a book. On every page I learned something new. Read it every night if you want to restore your faith in our country." —James Mattis, General, U.S. Marines (ret.) & 26th Secretary of Defense The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a revelatory new book about the founding fathers, examining their educations and, in particular, their devotion to the ancient Greek and Roman classics—and how that influence would shape their ideals and the new American nation. On the morning after the 2016 presidential election, Thomas Ricks awoke with a few questions on his mind: What kind of nation did we now have? Is it what was designed or intended by the nation’s founders? Trying to get as close to the source as he could, Ricks decided to go back and read the philosophy and literature that shaped the founders’ thinking, and the letters they wrote to each other debating these crucial works—among them the Iliad, Plutarch’s Lives, and the works of Xenophon, Epicurus, Aristotle, Cato, and Cicero. For though much attention has been paid the influence of English political philosophers, like John Locke, closer to their own era, the founders were far more immersed in the literature of the ancient world. The first four American presidents came to their classical knowledge differently. Washington absorbed it mainly from the elite culture of his day; Adams from the laws and rhetoric of Rome; Jefferson immersed himself in classical philosophy, especially Epicureanism; and Madison, both a groundbreaking researcher and a deft politician, spent years studying the ancient world like a political scientist. Each of their experiences, and distinctive learning, played an essential role in the formation of the United States. In examining how and what they studied, looking at them in the unusual light of the classical world, Ricks is able to draw arresting and fresh portraits of men we thought we knew. First Principles follows these four members of the Revolutionary generation from their youths to their adult lives, as they grappled with questions of independence, and forming and keeping a new nation. In doing so, Ricks interprets not only the effect of the ancient world on each man, and how that shaped our constitution and government, but offers startling new insights into these legendary leaders.

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Even though Dorothy Thompson excavated the Agora Bone Well in 1938, the well and its remarkable finds have never been fully studied until now. Located outside the northwest corner of the Athenian Agora and dating to the second quarter of the 2nd century B.C., the well contained the remains of roughly 460 newborn infants, as well as a few older individuals. Also found in the well were the bones of over 150 dogs and an assortment of other animals, plus various artifacts, including an intriguing herm (treated here by Andrew Stewart) and an ivory chape. In addition to a thorough examination of the contents of the well, the authors provide a thoughtful analysis of the neighborhood in which the well was located and carefully compare the deposit with similar accumulations found elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The product of close cooperation between archaeological, palaeoanthropological, and faunal scholars, this interdisciplinary work will be of interest to a large audience across a variety of fields.

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Most Sociology of Religion texts are decidedly staid and uninteresting, covering "contemporary" developments which are only contemporary only from a disciplinary perspective. They are not contemporary if viewed from the perspective of the religion's practioners (in religious and non-religious settings). The textbooks that attempt to be interesting to undergraduate students often fall short because they either try to cover too much in an encyclopedic format, or sacrifice a sociological perspective for a personal one. Many use real-life examples only superficially to illustrate concepts. Lundskow's approach is the opposite—students will learn the facts of religion in its great diversity, all the most interesting and compelling beliefs and practices, and then learn relevant concepts that can be used to explain empirical observations. The book thus follows the logic of actual research—investigate and then analyze—rather than approaching concepts with no real bearing on how religion is experienced in society. This approach, using provocative examples and with an eye toward the historical and theoretical, not to mention global experience of religion, will make this book a success in the classroom. The author envisions a substantive approach that examines religion as it actually exists in all its forms, including belief, ritual, daily living, identity, institutions, social movements, social control, and social change. Within these broad categories, the book will devote particular chapters to important historical moments and movements, leaders, and various individual religions that have shaped the contemporary form and effect of religion in the world today.

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