The Patriots is a riveting look at the lives of the men who dreamed the United States of America into existence – the lives they had before and the vision they had of a future that everyone else might have said was impossible. In reviewing the circumstances of their births and maturation, Winston Groom shows why the departure from British monarchy was absolutely necessary and what the definition of this new country gave to these men, the Founding Fathers, as they worked together to secure its existence.
Groom’s narrative nonfictional account includes the historical terms that are familiar from high school history – like, “No taxation without representation” and the “Intolerable Acts” that led to the Boston Tea Party – but he connects the history to the linked biographies of these three men with the skill of a novelist, focusing on one then the other so The Patriots reads like an epic story with multiple heroes, each brandishing his sword in his time.
Groom brings dimension and color to this historical account, and to read The Patriots is to be exposed to the familiar history but also to learn some of the less popular but no less affecting backstories. This is the book to read to understand the foundation of democracy in this country, to acknowledge the legacy of the Founding Fathers, even as you recognize the flaws and critiques that two and a half centuries of revisions has tried to right, and the motivation to preserve the tenets of a political structure that serves the populace.
I loved that Groom chose to begin The Patriots with Alexander Hamilton’s colorful background. As an immigrant myself, I enjoy reading about people who came to this land with a dream and not much else, and who grew to make valuable contributions in their time. As Groom tells the story of the Revolutionary War, he includes an anecdote of Hamilton forcing the surrender of British soldiers who had taken refuge on the Princeton campus, eliminating an English stronghold and securing a temporary win for the American army. In sharing this story, Groom notes the irony that the school had earlier rejected Hamilton’s application for admission. While that might not have the same impact on every reader, it’s the kind of story that tickled me because it shows Hamilton’s accomplishment despite his obstacles.
I enjoy reading history in general but the intersection of these founding fathers’ lives is not one that is entirely familiar to me. Yet, by starting the book the way he does, with Hamilton’s Caribbean origins, his writing accomplishments that attract the attention of benefactors and the start of his military career in New York, that coupled with the familiar locations that pepper the Revolutionary War narrative, made this an easy book to get immersed into and ultimately for me to enjoy reading.
High praises for The Patriots and I can see this one landing in my list of favorites this year.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of The Patriots from the publishers, National Geographic, and TLC Book Tours, in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated and the above reflects my honest review.
- Title: The Patriots
- Author: Winston Groom
- Format: Hardcover
- Pages: 415 pages
- Publisher: National Geographic
- Publication Date: November 3, 2020
In this masterful narrative, Winston Groom brings his signature storytelling panache to the tale of our nation’s most fascinating founding fathers–Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams–painting a vivid picture of the improbable events, bold ideas, and extraordinary characters who created the United States of America.
When the Revolutionary War ended in victory, there remained a stupendous problem: establishing a workable democratic government in the vast, newly independent country. Three key founding fathers played significant roles: John Adams, the brilliant, dour New Englander; Thomas Jefferson, the aristocratic Southern renaissance man; and Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the Caribbean island of Nevis. In this riveting narrative, best-selling author Winston Groom illuminates these men as the patriots fundamentally responsible for the ideas that shaped the emerging United States. Their lives could not have been more different, and their relationships with each other were often rife with animosity. And yet they led the charge–two of them creating and signing the Declaration of Independence, and the third establishing a national treasury and the earliest delineation of a Republican party. The time in which they lived was fraught with danger, and their achievements were strained by vast antagonisms that recall the intense political polarization of today. But through it all, they managed to shoulder the heavy mantle of creating the United States of America, putting aside their differences to make a great country. Drawing on extensive correspondence, Groom shares the remarkable story of the beginnings of our great nation.