Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution

Andrew M. Schocket. New York Univ, $30 (256p) ISBN -978-0-8147-0816-3
Schocket, a professor of history and American culture studies at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), looks into how politicians, historians, children’s literature, movies and media, museums, and the Supreme Court make use of the legacy of America’s founders. His central argument is that conservatives view the founding fathers as paragons of virtue against whom the present is judged, while liberals view them from the perspective of the present, with very different sensibilities on gender and race, and society in general. Schocket is an opinionated and sometimes cynical writer who makes his argument—which is that institutions and politicians use the founding fathers for commercial and political purposes—with direct and provocative examples. For example, he reveals his deep concern over American difficulties with race through a critique of the way in which politicians, biographers, and others ignore the founding fathers’ views on slavery (he considers these views the “greatest collective failure” of the founding fathers’ generation). An entertaining feature of Schocket’s writing is the gusto with which he takes on those he feels have misconstrued American history for political gain or profit, all of whom he happily skewers. Schocket covers a lot of ground in an accessible and entertaining style, with many provocative opinions to engage readers. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/15/2014
Release date: 01/01/2015
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4798-8410-0
Ebook - 268 pages - 978-0-8147-7115-0
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