First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

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$29.99  $27.89
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.6 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author
Thomas E. Ricks is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-05, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller.
First Principles is a fascinating and erudite look at how Greek and Roman writers influenced members of the Founding Generation. From the Harvard-educated John Adams to the largely self-taught George Washington, the most well-known of American Revolutionaries, turned statesmen, looked to the classical world to answer critical questions about the nature of power and the nature of government.--Annette Gordon-Reed, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello
Thomas Ricks's deeply personal, patriotic quest to recover and renew the principles that animated America's founders testifies eloquently to the value of historical understanding in these troubled times. Steeped in the classics, the founders could not have imagined our world and we are now, more than ever, acutely conscious of their failure to engage with the fundamental problem of racial slavery and its enduring legacies. But Ricks offers us a timely reminder of what the first four, nation-making presidents could imagine and did struggle to achieve.
--Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Virginia, coauthor of Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
Ricks knocks it out of the park with this jewel of a book. On every page I learned something new. Read it every night if you want to restore your faith in our country.--James Mattis, General, U.S. Marines (ret.) & 26th Secretary of Defense
Ricks knows his subject well, and, equally important, he writes about it lucidly.--Gordon Wood, University Professor at Brown University, and author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic
"One of my favorite works of history in a very long time. I grew up revering Jefferson. I found him loathsome here, but still recognize that like Churchill in 1940, a flawed man can move future events dramatically. Madison's reach was remarkable. Poor Adams remained as miserable as I had always viewed him. But Washington was my revelation here. I have never been able to put flesh on those bones, but Ricks has done it."--Joe Scarborough
An immersive and enlightening look at how the classical educations of the first four U.S. presidents (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison) influenced their thinking and the shape of American democracy....With incisive selections from primary sources and astute cultural and political analysis, this lucid and entertaining account is a valuable take on American history.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ricks does something quite remarkable: he takes a seemingly academic topic--the Greco-Roman education of the Founding Fathers--and makes it resonate with grand relevance....Offering a look at the Founders rarely glimpsed, Ricks successfully argues that America needs to rediscover its classical roots.--Library Journal (starred review)
"An exploration of the major influences of America's first four presidents...[In 2016 Ricks asked, ] 'What kind of nation do we now have? Is this what was designed or intended by the nation's founders?'...[He] reassures readers that the durable Constitutional order can handle a Donald Trump, and he concludes with 10 strategies for putting the nation back on course...Penetrating history with a modest dollop of optimism. --Kirkus Reviews
"In First Principles, Ricks provides us the reading list we would have to undertake to get close to the Framers' worldview. Ricks is not squeamish about their collective blindness to the evil of slavery, or its cruelty and brutality....What the flawed Framers gifted us was a blueprint of genius that we have since improved upon greatly because of Lincoln, the suffragists, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many other civil rights leaders of that era....Ricks reminds us of our purpose."--Washington Post