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the great upheaval by jay winik

February 27, 2008

i just finished the great upheaval by jay winik.

what a book! i picked up this book in part because i don’t know much about this era. i’ve read quite a bit on the founders, and know a little bit up until the constitution was ratified, but admittedly don’t know much about the 1790’s. i’ve known that is was an incredibly important time that did much to determine the sustainability of the republic, but haven’t taken the time to actually read about it.

this might be one of the most exciting books i’ve ever read. mr. winik goes to great lengths to show that the world, and it’s leaders, were as connected then as they are today. the only difference between then and now is the length of time it takes for messages to be sent back and forth now takes milliseconds instead of months. nevertheless, so many of the decisions that were made, were made in direct regard to what other world leaders were saying and doing. this title is classified as u.s. history and rightly so. it could, also, easily be placed in european history because the author puts so much effort into developing what happened in france, russia, and poland to give the reader the full perspective of what shaped the thoughts and decisions of washington, adams, and others.

if you are a history buff and you think you know quite a bit about the american experiment, but don’t know much about king louis xvi, robespierre, danton, marat, the jacobins, napoleon, catherine the great, potemkin, kosciuszko, this book simply is a must read.

i have not read mr. winik’s other book, april 1865, but have listened to his lecture on in in barnes & noble’s portable professor series. if you have any interest in the civil war, this is a must buy. it’s like auditing a college class. there’s no test at the end, but you get to sit in on the lecture. it is well worth the time and $30 invested. i just checked online and apparently it is now out of print. who knew? still, i’ll go ahead and recommend the whole series. if you see one that piques your interest, pick it up. you’ll be glad you did. if you’re really desperate for april 1865, send me a line and if the price is right, maybe you can wriggle mine free.

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