Setting the World Ablaze Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-05-02
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the American Revolution and of the three Founders who played crucial roles in winning the War of Independence and creating a new nation: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Braiding three strands into one rich narrative, John Ferlingbrings these American icons down from their pedestals to show them as men of flesh and blood, and in doing so gives us a new understanding of the passion and uncertainty of the struggle to form a new nation. A leading historian of the Revolutionary era, Ferling draws upon an unsurpassed command of the primary sources and a talent for swiftly moving narrative to give us intimate views of each of these men. He shows us both the overarching historical picture of the era and a gripping sense of howthese men encountered the challenges that faced them. We see Washington, containing a profound anger at British injustice within an austere demeanor; Adams, far from home, struggling with severe illness and French duplicity in his crucial negotiations in Paris; and Jefferson, distracted andindecisive, confronting uncertainties about his future in politics. John Adams, in particular, emerges from the narrative as the most under-appreciated hero of the Revolution, while Jefferson is revealed as the most overrated, yet most eloquent, of the Founders. Setting the World Ablaze shows indramatic detail how these conservative men--successful members of the colonial elite--were transformed into radical revolutionaries.

Author Biography

John Ferling is Professor of History at the State University of West Georgia and the author of John Adams: A Life and The First of Men: A Life of George Washington. He lives in Carrollton, Georgia.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Prologue: ``Embarked on a Most Tempestuous Sea'' July 1, 1776 xiv
PART ONE ``Distinguished from the Common Run of Men''
Children Who were Fathers of the Men
``The Strong Desire of Distinction''
The Vagaries of Youth
``Getting under Sail''
The Decisions of Youth
``This Desultory Life''
Toward Mid-Life
PART TWO ``Fortitude, Vigour, and Perseverance''
Waging War and Independence
``An Epocha in History''
``To Ride in This Whirlwind''
``Turning the Tide of Arms''
War and Reform
PART THREE ``It Is Impossible to Exceed This''
From Despair to Triumph
``A Fatal Crisis''
The Great Peril 1778--1780
``The Womb of Fate''
``Who Shall Write the History of the American Revolution?''
Memory and Meaning
Epilogue: The ``Sword'' and ``Bulwark'' of the American Revolution 296(11)
Abbreviations 307(2)
Notes 309(53)
Select Bibliography 362(11)
Index 373

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