All too often I think great historical figures such as the American Founding Fathers come across as distant and maybe even almost god-like in their achievements. The accomplishments for which we rightly honor them today can make them seem cold and unapproachable. And I wonder if this turns a lot of people off from learning about history, which would be a shame because once you discover how fascinating it is you want to read more.
Joseph Ellis' books aren't as much straightforward biographies and histories as they are character studies of what their subject's personalities were like and what they were thinking and what made them tick. Readers who want to read David McCullough's excellent John Adams but are put off by the length might want to consider starting with Ellis first. He eases you into the history in a way that makes it easier to later dive into the others. This is not to say that there's little substance to this book; on the contrary, I found myself constantly reaching for a pen to underline and mark sections that I thought were so insightful and important that I'd want to reference them again (not something I often do). You come away with a better feeling and appreciation for the issues and challenges those historical figures faced, and the nuances behind the actions and accomplishments. Very highly recommended! (I got this book from Amazon Vine).