A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic Review

It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations.

In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark." Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness of revolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson. Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve the political and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians--the founders--played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes, this book demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution.

John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer. A Leap in the Dark is his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.

Title:A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic
Edition Language:English

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    A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic Reviews

  • Diana

    This awesome book probably changed my life. It was a great overview of the American Revolution, focusing briefly on the contribution of the founding fathers. It was like introducing me to a fascinatin...

  • Amy

    I loved this book! When we learned about the American Revolution in junior high, my teacher assigned me alternative assignments because I loved history and did very well in that subject. Unfortunately...

  • Tim

    A Leap in the Dark is a good overview of the wider Revolutionary period (1754 to 1800). It is a long book, but Ferling provides a good, fun read because the story always moves. It is primarily a poli...

  • Joe

    An accessibly written history of our Nation’s founding and early Administrations. Similarities with our current politics abound and, frankly, give me great hope that we’ll do just fine. If anythin...

  • Nathan Albright

    It seems reasonably clear that this book was written at least partially in response to what may be seen as extremely patriotic and exceptionalist claims in the inevitability of American Independence [...

  • Shelley

    A bit conflicted. It's part of a series meant to be easily accessible history and it is. I found it a tad redundant, but one of my resolutions this year is to work through all the OUP American history...

  • Heather C

    I’m going to preface this by saying that this is part of an opinion review that I wrote for my class, so the style is a little different from my normal reviews, but I still though it would be a valu...

  • Andrew Canfield

    A Leap in the Dark traces the creation of the United States from the 1760s through the inauguration of the Jefferson administration. Historian John Ferling enlightens readers on the ideals and persona...

  • Jay Perkins

    A good political history of revolutionary America beginning with the French and Indian War in the 1750s and culminating with Jefferson's election in 1800. Ferling's chapters on the controversies that ...

  • Jed

    A fascinating, well-written history of the events leading up to the American revolution, largely from the bottom up. An essential perspective on an event which still reverberates around the world. Ful...