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A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History

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“History in Davis’s hands is loud, coarse, painful, funny, irreverent—and memorable.” —San Francisco Chronicle Following on his New York Times bestsellers America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, Ken Davis explores the next chapter in the country’s hidden history: the gritty first half of the 19th century, among the most tumultuous in the nation’s short li “History in Davis’s hands is loud, coarse, painful, funny, irreverent—and memorable.” —San Francisco Chronicle Following on his New York Times bestsellers America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, Ken Davis explores the next chapter in the country’s hidden history: the gritty first half of the 19th century, among the most tumultuous in the nation’s short life.


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“History in Davis’s hands is loud, coarse, painful, funny, irreverent—and memorable.” —San Francisco Chronicle Following on his New York Times bestsellers America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, Ken Davis explores the next chapter in the country’s hidden history: the gritty first half of the 19th century, among the most tumultuous in the nation’s short li “History in Davis’s hands is loud, coarse, painful, funny, irreverent—and memorable.” —San Francisco Chronicle Following on his New York Times bestsellers America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, Ken Davis explores the next chapter in the country’s hidden history: the gritty first half of the 19th century, among the most tumultuous in the nation’s short life.

30 review for A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Howard

    Kenneth C. Davis rose to prominence as the author of the popular “Don’t Know Much About …” series, which was inspired by the Sam Cooke song lyric “don’t know much about history.” His most recent two books have been more ambitious efforts to continue what he had begun in his earlier books, but to do so in a more thorough and expansive manner. They could be called his “Hidden History” books. The title of the first is “Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women & Forgotten F Kenneth C. Davis rose to prominence as the author of the popular “Don’t Know Much About …” series, which was inspired by the Sam Cooke song lyric “don’t know much about history.” His most recent two books have been more ambitious efforts to continue what he had begun in his earlier books, but to do so in a more thorough and expansive manner. They could be called his “Hidden History” books. The title of the first is “Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women & Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation.” The second, which is a follow-up to the first, and the subject of this review, is titled “A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History.” In other words, the reader gets more “hidden history,” not to mention more alliteration. But hidden from whom? Well, like his “Don’t Know Much About…” series it would have to be the general public, for it certainly is not hidden from the people in the various fields that he writes about. But then he does write about a staggering assortment of subjects in his “Don’t Know Much About” books, everything from history and geography to dinosaurs, mummies, myths, and mythology. My two favorite titles in the series are “Don’t Know Much About the Universe” and “Don’t Know Much About Anything” – which are, and I suppose would have to be, the last entries in the series. After writing about America’s colonial and revolutionary period and the founding of the nation in the first “hidden history” book, Davis moves on to the first half of the 19th century in “A Nation Rising.” His subjects include the trial of Aaron Burr (an early media circus); Indian wars and massacres (committed by both sides); slave uprisings and rebellions and retaliations; and public and political opposition to immigration that sometimes resulted in violent confrontations. (Since this account ends around 1850, can a “hidden history” of the Civil War be far away?) Davis’ overarching theme is best expressed by the quotation that he takes from Nancy Isenberg’s biography of Aaron Burr, “Fallen Founder.” Isenberg wrote: “What separates history from myth is that history takes in the whole picture, whereas myth averts our eyes from the truth when it turns men into heroes and gods.” Because Davis writes about some of the darker episodes of our early history and attempts to explode some myths and set the record straight, as he sees it, it is not a book that everyone will agree with and many will find to be an irritant. For example, this Amazon customer, who found the book to be more than irritating: “Thanks for ripping me off, Davis, but I understand that's just what you liberals do; rip off hard workers and spit on America with cowardly cheap shots from behind your trust-fund Macs and lattes in your rent subsidized NYC apartments.” Another wrote: “If you are a liberal who thrives on apologetic politics of how bad our founding fathers are, then you will love this book. However, if you are a fair-minded person who is interested in the history of this great nation, then either avoid this book completely, or at least skip the introduction…. I must confess that I stopped before I got through the first historical segment on Aaron Burr because I could not take anymore.” I have always admired reviewers who are able to write critical reviews of books that they have not read. Therefore, the above review greatly influenced my own opinion of the book, even though I did read it. There are also favorable reviews by Amazon customers. And a "People" magazine reviewer even went so far as to describe reading Davis as being like "returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had." Ironically, the man who writes about practically everything in the universe – including the universe – did not graduate from college. Or maybe it isn’t ironic at all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James (JD) Dittes

    For a popular book of history, this is about as close to perfect as a one can get. Short, focused chapters, connections to present-day dilemmas, hidden villains and heroes (like John C. Fremont who really is due), Davis deserves a lot of credit here. Davis sees echoes of 19th-century history in post-9/11 America, and he provides them without veering into polemic. As I read this, I kept thinking of "A People's History of the United States," for the way it illuminated the lives of oppressed peoples For a popular book of history, this is about as close to perfect as a one can get. Short, focused chapters, connections to present-day dilemmas, hidden villains and heroes (like John C. Fremont who really is due), Davis deserves a lot of credit here. Davis sees echoes of 19th-century history in post-9/11 America, and he provides them without veering into polemic. As I read this, I kept thinking of "A People's History of the United States," for the way it illuminated the lives of oppressed peoples--Southern Indian tribes, slaves, Catholic immigrants. Yet Davis lets the facts speak for themselves and leaves plenty of room for readers to reach their own conclusions. What really struck me was how many of these "untold tales" were located in the South. I live in Tennessee, and yet I found new insights into such events as the Creek & Seminole Wars, slave uprisings, and the addition of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi into the Union. Unlike the West, where Native Americans still factor into the culture because of the proximity of so many reservations, Indians in the South are both gone and forgotten. I learned a lot. I think that's the highest compliment I can pay any book, and this one certainly earned that accolade.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    Interesting and more in depth than I was expecting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    julia

    fundamentalism? birthers? corrupt politicians? are we doomed to repeat the past? Kenneth C. Davis does an amazing job of making this oft-overlooked period of American history come to life by telling the story of people who, in their day, were household names, but now have diminished. The author writes history in such an accomplished and welcoming way that the reader is drawn in and carried along by the narrative. Davis first came to my attention as the author of "Don't Know Much About History", alm fundamentalism? birthers? corrupt politicians? are we doomed to repeat the past? Kenneth C. Davis does an amazing job of making this oft-overlooked period of American history come to life by telling the story of people who, in their day, were household names, but now have diminished. The author writes history in such an accomplished and welcoming way that the reader is drawn in and carried along by the narrative. Davis first came to my attention as the author of "Don't Know Much About History", almost 20 years ago. His belief in telling the truth and not repeating historical myth, coupled with simple question and answer format were immediately compelling. In "A Nation Rising" he switches gears to a narrative form and does so in a captivating and successful manner. The stories he tells and the connections to our modern day situation make for illuminating reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I have to admit that I have never really enjoyed modern history much...especially U.S. history. Growing up, I always preferred ancient history: Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Israel. Most of my history books seemed incredibly dry and dull, dull, dull. Date, policies, laws, and cardboard characters. Kenneth C. Davis does a great job of bringing history to life, making it exciting, and painting historical players in living color. He tells six tales, starting will Aaron Burr and ending wi I have to admit that I have never really enjoyed modern history much...especially U.S. history. Growing up, I always preferred ancient history: Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Israel. Most of my history books seemed incredibly dry and dull, dull, dull. Date, policies, laws, and cardboard characters. Kenneth C. Davis does a great job of bringing history to life, making it exciting, and painting historical players in living color. He tells six tales, starting will Aaron Burr and ending with Jessie Fremont. The writing is highly readable and entertaining. I wish I could have read history books like this in high school and college.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the cliches of our forebears.... We enjoy the comfort of opinion with out the discomfort of thought. – John F. Kennedy as quoted by Kenneth Davis Author Kenneth C. Davis does not look at the history of the United States through rose-colored glasses. This has earned him some very vocal critics and some admirers. He is the author For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the cliches of our forebears.... We enjoy the comfort of opinion with out the discomfort of thought. – John F. Kennedy as quoted by Kenneth Davis Author Kenneth C. Davis does not look at the history of the United States through rose-colored glasses. This has earned him some very vocal critics and some admirers. He is the author of the “Don't Know Much About” series of books, but I had not read any of his writing before this book. Based solely on A Nation Rising, I fall into the admirer camp. While I am a loyal and patriotic American, I believe that as a country, we cannot decrease the mistakes of our future unless we recognize the mistakes of our past. There has been too much whitewashing of our history, and when I was a student, I got only the heavily sanitized version. The book contains six chapters, each dealing with an aspect of the U. S. during the first half of the 19th century. With titles such as “Burr's Trial” and “Weatherford's War,” I expected the book to perhaps be too narrow in scope and somewhat boring. I was entirely wrong. Mr. Davis includes the history necessary to understand each chapter. At the beginning of each, he includes a time line and some great quotes. I have two issues with the book. I think the book would be better received if Mr. Davis had left out the comparisons to President Bush. Whether or not I agree with his viewpoint, they did not seem to fit into a history of the period. The second issue is just an “I wish.” I would have liked illustrations of some of the artwork and portraits he mentioned. All in all, I very much enjoyed this informative and entertaining book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Typogirl

    History buffs who like to see how trends wax and wane over time will enjoy Kenneth Davis's comparisons. Davis (and I) were amazed at how many times in our countries early history the same names intersect in completely different places and situations. Aaron Burr shaped our history as vice president and duelist of Alexander Hamilton; he was also the victim of an outed memo that lead to a trial for treason. The thwarting of Thomas Jefferson's claim of executive power lead to a precedent that shows t History buffs who like to see how trends wax and wane over time will enjoy Kenneth Davis's comparisons. Davis (and I) were amazed at how many times in our countries early history the same names intersect in completely different places and situations. Aaron Burr shaped our history as vice president and duelist of Alexander Hamilton; he was also the victim of an outed memo that lead to a trial for treason. The thwarting of Thomas Jefferson's claim of executive power lead to a precedent that shows the ability of one branch to prosecute and participate as grand jury can lead to horrific miscarriages of justice. Davis once again takes forgotten figures in history and links them to current happenings, proving that everything has happened before, at least within the proper context. The timelines he provides help place each chapter in the moment. Davis uses the end of each chapter to examine the links between past and present. Even those who aren't huge fans of history will be interested in the stories and real-life characters within. It's an easy, quick read, and an educational one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    I won this book through goodreads first-reads! The Author tells informative, short, mostly readable, stories of an important period of history between the American Revolution and the westward expansion. Untold tales are interesting, but the real value to me was what these tales revealed about the characters in them. Kenneth Davis did a great job of putting their lives and actions in a meaningful context.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    It was interesting to read about a few events in history that are usually unknown to most readers. The mark of a great historian is the ability to relate past events to current & to make them relavent, however, I found it a little telling, that Davis relates a couple of the "negative" events only conservative (or Republican) politicians. He shows himself to be a bit of an "Obama fan" in his relating hereos & trailblazers to Obama - gee, any surprise that this author is from Vermont? I also disag It was interesting to read about a few events in history that are usually unknown to most readers. The mark of a great historian is the ability to relate past events to current & to make them relavent, however, I found it a little telling, that Davis relates a couple of the "negative" events only conservative (or Republican) politicians. He shows himself to be a bit of an "Obama fan" in his relating hereos & trailblazers to Obama - gee, any surprise that this author is from Vermont? I also disagree with Davis' assertion that the Monroe Doctrine (this "other Monroe Doctrine" he calls it)in relation to Americans' dealings with Indians is essentially ethnic cleansing. He forgets that, in the centuries old history of territorial control, our story is not uncommon. But, as with ALL liberals, the whites are ALL bad & the Indians are the innocent victims...so typical! His liberalism & political-correctness also makes him fail to see the connection between Nat Turner (who led a slave revolt in which he killed not only his master but his wife & children & intended for many more whites of all ages to die) & Obama's Reverend Jeremiah Wright: he describes Turner as a mystic & a preacher of a slave church that was a center for underground slave plottings preaching "white hate". He went on to conclude that, due to these churches & earlier slave revolts, whites were understandably frightened...yet, he, among other liberals in our country, fail to see why many Americans are concerned about churches, headed by preachers such as Reverend Wright, that preach hate & the over-throw of our current "white" society... He also goes into great detail about the massacre at Fort Mims during which a group of Creek Indian warriors killed & mutilated not only men, but women, children, & pregnant women but then must forget about all of that further in the chapter when describing the Trail of Tears when these "innocent" Native Americans are forced west by U.S. soldiers. While I don't condone everything perpetrated on Native Americans in our history, many historians seem to forget the past sins of Indians while speaking only of the sins of the whites. I had professors like him in college who have been in the world of academia a little too long & not in the REAL world much...

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Kelley

    I enjoyed reading Kenneth C Davis' A Nation Rising for its coverage of American history, its connections with today's world, and for the personalities he coveraged. One of the most interesting Americans is Jesse Benton Fremont who made her way across the Isthmus of Panama to reach her husband, or her elopment with the man she loved. Her life encompassed nearly three quarters of the 19th century and I think we need a good biography of her life. I know from reading Abraham Lincoln, she was a pest I enjoyed reading Kenneth C Davis' A Nation Rising for its coverage of American history, its connections with today's world, and for the personalities he coveraged. One of the most interesting Americans is Jesse Benton Fremont who made her way across the Isthmus of Panama to reach her husband, or her elopment with the man she loved. Her life encompassed nearly three quarters of the 19th century and I think we need a good biography of her life. I know from reading Abraham Lincoln, she was a pest to him. I think Davis did a commendable job weaving the threads of history from the colonial period with Aaron Burr to the 1850s. His coverage of the conflict between Protestants and Catholic was good, however, I wished he had added the Vatican's position of democracy and republicanism that Protestants were aware of by the Churches support of the monarchies; especially in the 1848 Revolutions in Europe. See David Goldfield's America Aflame recently published. And with respect to the African American uprisings in America, he covered well the events of uprisings in the Carribbean. There are some errors, President Taylor dying of Cholera that is not true. The author's effort to make history interesting is his greatest strength and I would suggest other read this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jay Connor

    For the great enemy of Truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the Myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the clichés of our fore bearers. We envy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - JFK In many ways, the period of 1800 to 1860, while often kept in the recesses of our collective American memory, much like the crazy uncle we hope won't embarrass us at yet another family gathering, is perhaps the most tellin For the great enemy of Truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the Myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold to the clichés of our fore bearers. We envy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - JFK In many ways, the period of 1800 to 1860, while often kept in the recesses of our collective American memory, much like the crazy uncle we hope won't embarrass us at yet another family gathering, is perhaps the most telling and most "american" of any of our epochs. Davis, though a weak writer, takes us on a journey of discovery of several key formations of who we are as a people. Unfortunately, for every John Marshall moment -- judicial review (Marbury v. Madison) or limits on Executive power (Burr treason trial), there are twice as many cringe inducing revelations. From the Indian "removal" to the "slave revolts" many themes and our calculated compromises, bedevil us to this day. Immigration, states rights are just some of the current national agenda items which have their unresolved roots in this dynamic period.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book is a spicy side dish of history. I was short and entertaining but it open up whole worlds of history that I know I never learned about in high school history class. The genius of of Kenneth Davis is that he presents history in a way that appeals to the part of us that loves a good story. I will never forget Davis's description of Jessie Fremont traveling across Panama to reach her husband in California. Through her story, I learned about the California gold rush and the abolitionist mo This book is a spicy side dish of history. I was short and entertaining but it open up whole worlds of history that I know I never learned about in high school history class. The genius of of Kenneth Davis is that he presents history in a way that appeals to the part of us that loves a good story. I will never forget Davis's description of Jessie Fremont traveling across Panama to reach her husband in California. Through her story, I learned about the California gold rush and the abolitionist movement. Some people have the historian gene and are able to retain long lists of names and dates. This is a book for the rest of us.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nanette Bulebosh

    Davis, author of the popular "Don't Know Much About History" books, focuses on American history between 1800 and 1850, a period that is too often neglected, in his view. Using his great storytelling skills, Davis zeroes in on six different stories: Aaron Burr's 1807 trial for treason An Indian rising in the South in 1813 Slave revolts and mutinies, beginning with the Creole (although there's a a great explanation of General Toussaint-Louverture's leadership in the Haitian slave revolts) The Dade Ma Davis, author of the popular "Don't Know Much About History" books, focuses on American history between 1800 and 1850, a period that is too often neglected, in his view. Using his great storytelling skills, Davis zeroes in on six different stories: Aaron Burr's 1807 trial for treason An Indian rising in the South in 1813 Slave revolts and mutinies, beginning with the Creole (although there's a a great explanation of General Toussaint-Louverture's leadership in the Haitian slave revolts) The Dade Massacre and the start of the second Seminole War The Bible Riots in Philadelpha, and the story of Jesse Benton Fremont and the role she played in the settling of California.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    this book was good. It is a great history book that goes over people who are less known. My favorite part was the part that was on aaron burr.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cinnamon

    Interesting portrait of some of history's "heroes" Very good look at how times and perceptions change, as how some who were viewed as heroes for years are now considered to be "villains"

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    A few episodes in American history, generally glossed over if ever covered at all - given pretty good coverage, but sometimes missing context. For instance, he starts the story about the Creek Wars with the Fort Mims Massacre - after the Red Sticks have already been established- but the Red Sticks were formed in reaction to the violent encroachment on their lands. He does some backfilling to try and explain the earlier history, later, but he's already sensationalized the action and you can't un- A few episodes in American history, generally glossed over if ever covered at all - given pretty good coverage, but sometimes missing context. For instance, he starts the story about the Creek Wars with the Fort Mims Massacre - after the Red Sticks have already been established- but the Red Sticks were formed in reaction to the violent encroachment on their lands. He does some backfilling to try and explain the earlier history, later, but he's already sensationalized the action and you can't un-poison the well. He starts with a sympathetic treatment of Aaron Burr, then a discussion of the wars on the Creek and Seminole Nations, the anti-Irish anti-Catholic riots in Philly, and closes with a biographical sketch of Jessie and John Fremont. If you don't want to invest the time in a full length book on any of these topics, I guess this is a good "Readers Digest" snapshot of these people and their times. He does make this weird claim about how our the Mexican War was our first imperial war of expansion AFTER two long sections detailing our wars against the Creek and Seminole Nations. Even a historian who writes about our wars on the First Nations peoples of the continent don't think "they count" in the same way our other wars do. We all put them in a different mental bucket. Shameful. Anyway - the sections bookending the book are good- Burr deserves more attention, as do the Fremonts. Otherwise, not really all that good.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Gee

    I was forced to put this audiobook aside for a few days after getting about half way through, then picked it back up and finished once time permitted. Fortunately that worked out fine given the way topics were segmented. Overall this book felt like a fresh, though sometimes very difficult perspective, on a fascinating period in American history. As the author intended, there were many things I wasn't familiar with from my (long-ago) school days or subsequent reading. However, he treated one subj I was forced to put this audiobook aside for a few days after getting about half way through, then picked it back up and finished once time permitted. Fortunately that worked out fine given the way topics were segmented. Overall this book felt like a fresh, though sometimes very difficult perspective, on a fascinating period in American history. As the author intended, there were many things I wasn't familiar with from my (long-ago) school days or subsequent reading. However, he treated one subject I was quite familiar with in an offhanded and flawed way which left me wondering if he perhaps had shaded other things or hadn't done justice to them as well. Speaking of flawed, I suppose one big take-away from the book is just how nuanced and "real" the people who founded and shaped our country really were and just how prone people are to be violent, brutal, or even commit atrocities upon each other.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Mr. Davis documents six little-known or almost-forgotten incidents in 19th-century American history, from the treason trial of Aaron Burr (you know, the guy who shot Alexander Hamilton), to the spotty career of John C. Fremont. If history had been taught like this in school, more of us might have remembered more about it. However, Mr. Davis is not a hero-worshipper; when he paints a portrait in words, it is "warts and all."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Barnes

    Lots of interesting history and little known facts about our forefathers. It points out once again man's inhumane treatment of fellow man - just because they don't look like you, talk like you, or think like you. We have so much to improve upon in this country - I hope we can before we run out of time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    3.5 stars. Interesting stories from the nooks and crannies of history that act as keyhole through which the reader can get a sense of the broader American identity at that time. As a whole though, there isn't much explanation of why any of this matters which should be requisite for any good history writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Priscilla Herrington

    A well-told account of the period of American history from about 1800 to 1850. Although this period is often glossed over quickly if it is taught at all in public schools, events during this time are still influencing everyday American life and politics.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rob McCormick

    Very well explained book! It's amazing how much stuff they don't tell you in History class about Indian massacres! Don't even mention the Bible riots!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Hammock

    I the end of each section I was just left with the feeling of “so what?”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This wasn't as interesting as the first book. I checked it out from the library and had it for several months but never finished it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Larry Hostetler

    I was disappointed in this book. I expected some insight or (as the subtitle suggests) hidden history, but most of what I found was a rehash of other books I've read. The book is comprised of six chapters, Burr's Trial, Weatherford's War, Madison's Mutiny, Dade's Promise, Morse's Code, and Jessie's Journey. Burr's trial deals more with the backstory leading up to Aaron Burr's trial than with any "hidden" history. Perhaps little-known or misunderstood, the history is anything but hidden. Having r I was disappointed in this book. I expected some insight or (as the subtitle suggests) hidden history, but most of what I found was a rehash of other books I've read. The book is comprised of six chapters, Burr's Trial, Weatherford's War, Madison's Mutiny, Dade's Promise, Morse's Code, and Jessie's Journey. Burr's trial deals more with the backstory leading up to Aaron Burr's trial than with any "hidden" history. Perhaps little-known or misunderstood, the history is anything but hidden. Having recently read Isenberg's "Fallen Founder", a biography of Aaron Burr referenced by Davis, I found little new information in this, the longest of the six chapters. Weatherford's War was the chapter of which I was most unfamiliar and of most interest to me, telling about some of the Indian Wars, focusing on Andrew Jackson, who is portrayed as a disturbed individual. I learned a lot about the wars, although the Jackson portrayed here is nothing like the Jackson I read about in a short biography of Jackson by Wilentz. Madison's Mutiny was another chapter on a subject of which I had not read much. Slave mutinies are chronicled, and I found this chapter to be the most engaging of the six. Dade's Promise is about the Seminole war, and has some similarities to Weatherford's War. While it was interesting, I felt Davis could have found another type of story to tell - much of the book so far deals with matters in the south. Morse's Code uses the "hidden history" of Samuel Morse's anti-catholic ideology to look primarily at anti-catholic attacks in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia). Having lived there and studied some of its history, I was completely unaware of these incidents. Given that the death toll was 24 people, with a number of structures (including churches) burned by anti-catholic mobs, this pales in comparison to the impact in human lives on Native Americans (Weatherford's War and Dade's Promise) or slavery and slave uprisings (Madison's Mutiny). Expanding it to encompass other anti-catholic sentiment since then in other forms didn't add sufficiently to warrant the pages. It seemed a bit of a stretch to me, but it is a part of American History as recently as the Kennedy/Nixon campaign. But it was only obliquely about Morse. Jessie's Journey is the most scattered of the chapters. While it uses a journey Jessie Fremont made to join her husband, it is more about the settling of the west and John C. Fremont than Jessie's Journey. Early on in the book I was struck by an aside the author inserted, ostensibly to compare early American History to recent events. The slant on the comment was distinctly anti-conservative politically, but I decided not to let one comment (which could have been misinterpreted or badly written) affect my opinion of the book. Then another similar comment appeared and I thought surely he will have a negative comment about some liberal political activity. But I didn't read any. Opportunities existed to suggest no leader is perfect, but the only examples I noticed took aim/potshots at conservatives. Perhaps I missed them due to my own sympathies, but I felt they were unnecessary and distracting rather than elucidating. Not enough new things; bad choice of subjects, poor attention to subject continuity, and biased perspective all worked together to qualify for a poor rating. Maybe the author's other books don't have similar issues. He states in his acknowledgements that this is a bit different from his previous writings. It doesn't hurt to try new things; this opus didn't work for me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leew49

    Davis covers the first 50 years of the 19th century in the United States, a period which often gets overlooked in history classes. It was a time when our country expanded enormously, acquiring vast territory from Spain, France and Mexico, growing to the South and West in eventual fulfillment of what journalists and politicians of the era referred to as our Manifest Destiny. But the motives behind our rapid expansion in the early 1800's were often less than noble. Many, among them Henry David Tho Davis covers the first 50 years of the 19th century in the United States, a period which often gets overlooked in history classes. It was a time when our country expanded enormously, acquiring vast territory from Spain, France and Mexico, growing to the South and West in eventual fulfillment of what journalists and politicians of the era referred to as our Manifest Destiny. But the motives behind our rapid expansion in the early 1800's were often less than noble. Many, among them Henry David Thoreau and leading abolitionists, opposed the war with Mexico because it would make possible the spread of slavery into the new territories. In order to take advantage of rich, cotton-fertile soil, it was deemed necessary to "relocate" Native Americans, and subsequent wars with the Seminoles and other tribes were the result. This reader learned for the first time that freed or escaped black slaves were often the allies of the Seminoles and others, as well as fighting their own ill-fated uprisings, such as that led by Nat Turner, or the slave ship rebellion aboard the Creole. Our population expanded rapidly through immigration, and many of these were welcomed not with open arms but with slums, prejudice, and bloody riots. During the 1800's the immigrants most discriminated against were the Irish, who came here to escape the effects of the Potato Blight, often to serve in our military because other jobs were not open to them. Several fascinating personalities stand out in Davis's narrative. Aaron Burr, who was never tried for killing Hamilton in a duel, but was tried for treason on the word of Thomas Jefferson and trumped up charges; Jessie and John C Fremont, who not only blazed trails to the West, but were forces for abolition; Andrew Jackson, an accomplished but bigoted and ambitious man whose reputation as a leader was tarnished by his behavior toward Native Americans and blacks. Davis also makes an attempt to relate 19th century events to 21st century issues, such as race relations, religious intolerance, and the role of the press. Many of our problems today are arguably related to our country's origins and the decisions we made then.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    What I thought would be an interesting history book, entitled A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History, has turned out to be a political pundit’s adaptation of his worldview to various historical events. In other words, there is little true history on these pages. I will admit up front that I only read the introduction and the first 61 pages – the section about Aaron Burr’s trial. (I couldn’t stomach reading any further! What I thought would be an interesting history book, entitled A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History, has turned out to be a political pundit’s adaptation of his worldview to various historical events. In other words, there is little true history on these pages. I will admit up front that I only read the introduction and the first 61 pages – the section about Aaron Burr’s trial. (I couldn’t stomach reading any further!) From the beginning, when author Kenneth C. Davis claims that the election of Barack Obama was a “transforming moment” in American History. I paused, then decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Truly, the election was merely an indicator of something that had already happened: race is no longer an impediment to higher office. But, maybe Davis was going to enlighten me beyond the usual partisan pap. Nope. The first chapter didn’t get any better. Davis intimates that Aaron Burr was an all-around good guy, who seemed to have given Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton no reason to dislike the man. The nastiness of campaign attacks in the 1800 election were clearly enough to create enmity all around. But apparently Davis forgets all this. Next he states that Jefferson used the power of the presidency to bring false treason charges against Burr, much like Bush punished Joseph Wilson for speaking out against the Iraq war by outing his CIA wife, Valerie Plame. The only similarity here was likely that both Presidents were innocent of any wrongdoing in these cases. The fact that Davis alters history by bringing in his own conjecture shows that this man is no historian. If you love history give this one a miss. I wouldn't give this any stars, but Goodreads requires at least one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen (itpdx)

    Some very interesting pieces of US history. Rather uninspiring writing. I had to go back and re-read the introduction to remember where Davis was going with this book because the incidents are only loosely tied together in the narrative. Davis looks at six incidents that happened between 1800 and 1850. He picks some fascinating incidents that did not make my general American history courses. Some that look at the Indians between initial colonization and the western Indian wars after the Civil Wa Some very interesting pieces of US history. Rather uninspiring writing. I had to go back and re-read the introduction to remember where Davis was going with this book because the incidents are only loosely tied together in the narrative. Davis looks at six incidents that happened between 1800 and 1850. He picks some fascinating incidents that did not make my general American history courses. Some that look at the Indians between initial colonization and the western Indian wars after the Civil War. I wish I still had a copy of some of the text books that were used in my schooling. I think I remember something about "Indian removal" but not the battles and massacres and political manuevering that came before. And although slavery was a big topic, the relationship to the slave revolt that created Haiti was not even mentioned, let alone the slave revolts and the alliance between the Indians and free blacks and escaped slaves in Spanish Florida. And even though I attended Catholic schools, I don't remember the burning of Catholic Churches in Philadelphia being mentioned! Anyway lots of interesting stuff but Davis' attempt to start out with an exciting incident and then explain its background and its importance to future events left me working very hard to keep things in order. And his jumping in to provide background (date and place of birth, parentage, upbringing, etc.) was often abrupt and not well tied to the story line.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sue

    Kenneth takes the bare bones skeleton of American History that most of us were presented in 7-12th grades and fleshes it out without the bloating of some histories. Aaron Burr goes from hero to vice president to duelist murder and finally looses all luster when accused of treason. William Weatherford a mixed blood Creek, lead a rebellion against the relocation of American Indians that provided for expansion of the original states. Sadly some of the relocated tribes had almost fully adapted to the Kenneth takes the bare bones skeleton of American History that most of us were presented in 7-12th grades and fleshes it out without the bloating of some histories. Aaron Burr goes from hero to vice president to duelist murder and finally looses all luster when accused of treason. William Weatherford a mixed blood Creek, lead a rebellion against the relocation of American Indians that provided for expansion of the original states. Sadly some of the relocated tribes had almost fully adapted to the American ways. Deep prejudices of our leaders won out. Washington Madison lead slaves and freemen into a revolt that resulted in the founding of the nation of Haiti. Meanwhile, the USA is increasing with slave states and free states. Many small and large rebellions such as Nat Turner's cause fear and antagonism in the white population. Mutiny on the Creole and Amistad are well described. In Florida, Seminole combine with run-a-way slaves to resist treaties and mass exportation. Arrival of a large percentage of the Irish population stir up more problems in labor and fears of papacy domination. Bible Riots in Philadelphia are symbolic of the nations fears and prejudices. The formation of Texas and California follow similar paths from Mexican origin followed by separate sovereign states and finally to statehood. Manifest Destiny is realized.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Anyone that finds themselves intrigued by American history should find this one highly entertaining as well as enlightening. Covering the period between 1800 and 1850 when the colonies emerged from a struggling neophyte nation to a continent-spanning, near empire, Davis concentrates on the stories of the founders that have either gone untold or have been ignored for more mythic versions. The details of the Aaron Burr trial of 1807 would make any modern web blogger indignant with political revela Anyone that finds themselves intrigued by American history should find this one highly entertaining as well as enlightening. Covering the period between 1800 and 1850 when the colonies emerged from a struggling neophyte nation to a continent-spanning, near empire, Davis concentrates on the stories of the founders that have either gone untold or have been ignored for more mythic versions. The details of the Aaron Burr trial of 1807 would make any modern web blogger indignant with political revelation and the details of the “Dade Massacre” and origins of the second Seminole War certainly received short shrift in my high school American history classes. By 1850 the “Indian Removal” had been accomplished but how few realized the vast numbers that were involved or how, to assuage private and public consciences, advocates used the language of religion or paternalism. We may know that Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California were “liberated” from Spain but do we realize how irrational the rationalization that was used actually was? This should be requisite reading for all “Strict Constitutional Constructionists”, or even for those that think they might like to return to a simpler and less hectic nineteenth century.

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