Book— Structured into six chapters covering six seminal events in Revolutionary American history, Founding Brothers provides a glimpse into the psyches of America’s founding generation. According to Ellis, accounts of the founders often render these men heroically remote and untouchable (well, until the Hamilton musical, that is); by focusing on the bonds among them, Ellis hopes to render his subjects more accessible. Discrete incidents such as the dinner that decided the location of the U.S. capitol and the duel that took Hamilton’s life reveal who these men were when their characters were tested. Ellis’ writing shines when he humanizes the founders with little personal details. Jefferson often sang under his breath. Madison was sickly. Adams was choleric and has a tumultuous friendship with Jefferson. Ellis’ accessible story-telling makes the Revolution feel immediate and precarious rather than a foregone conclusion with the benefit of hindsight.
For a closer look at some of the founding fathers, check out Ellis’ other books, like American Sphinx, which focuses on Jefferson, and His Excellency, which portrays Washington.
TV Series – If you haven’t watched The West Wing yet – WHY NOT? This is easily one of the highest rated shows in TV history. If you haven’t watched it in years, then it is time to re-watch it. Once again it is very timely with the upcoming election and I bet that you will be wishing that a person like Jed Bartlet would be running for President. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it gives you a sneak peek into the everyday workings of the staff of the West Wing of the White House. Unlike some other political series, the main characters are realistic with human shortcomings and watchers can’t help but sympathize and root for them and get an insight into their personal lives and their devotion to public service. It’s fun to compare this drama which originally aired in 1999 and aired for 7 seasons to current series such as House of Cards, Madam Secretary, Scandal, and Veep.
And here’s another bonus – Joshua Malina, who was on the show as Will Bailey for 4 seasons now has a podcast called “The West Wing Weekly” that he co-hosts with Hrishikesh Hirway. Every week, the Podcast features one episode of the show airing chronologically starting with the “Pilot” which aired on March 23rd. So you can binge watch and catch up or watch an episode and then listen to the corresponding podcast episode.
Each podcast features recaps of the episode, commentary from the hosts, and special guests including former West Wing cast members, writers, and directors.