Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father

Stephen Fried. Crown, $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-8041-4006-5
Fried (Appetite for America) makes the case, in this comprehensive and fascinating biography, that renaissance man Benjamin Rush merits more attention. Rush served the American Revolution “as a doctor, a politician, a social reformer, an educational visionary, and even as an activist editor”— and persuaded Thomas Paine to write Common Sense. He put his life on the line as a battlefield surgeon; wrote a “pamphlet that would transform military medicine in America”; served as a public health advocate and champion of public education for all, including women, African-Americans, and immigrants; and supported abolition and the separation of church and state. He was credited by John Adams as having made more contributions to independence from Britain than Ben Franklin. Despite all this, Fried portrays Rush as a complex, flawed person and not just a list of accomplishments; he describes the doctor’s ill-advised and indiscreet criticisms of the leadership of the Continental Army in 1778, conveyed in a letter to his wife that discussed the possibility of ousting Washington as its commander—a primary source that Fried and his researchers believe had never been transcribed before. That find is a testament to the authorial thoroughness and insight that will keep readers engaged until the last page. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 10/23/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-8041-4008-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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