A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis

A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History

This is the second book of Davis’ that I have read and I have to say that I liked this one a lot better. (the other was America’s Hidden History)

Davis is an artist at turning small seldom known events in American history into easy-to-digest, about 20-25 page, stories that hold your interest and leave you questioning your own knowledge of the
US. Those nuggets also lead me to want to know more and that is perhaps, what I enjoy so much about his work.

A Nation Rising, focusing on 1800 through 1850, includes the tale of Aaron Burr’s trial for treason, Major Francis Dade’s massacre by Indians in the area that would later be named Dade County, Florida, a brave woman, Jessie Freemont, journey to the gold rush in California through the treacherous Isthmus of Panama, and more.

The chapter that intrigued me the most was Morse’s Code. Did you know that Samuel F. B. Morse, the guy that came up with the Morse Code, was a fervent anti-Catholic? In just 35 pages, Kenneth C. Davis explained to me something that I had been struggling to understand for years, why our nation was so fervently opposed to Catholics or what many at the time called Romanism/papism.

Any book that can explain something that I have been perplexed over for years in just a few pages, is golden in my life. The other thing that Davis does so well is showing us the men behind the myths in history. Our founding fathers and other bright lights in American history were human. They did great things, but the things that are often hidden over time are just as important in understanding these men. No real person is perfect and the myths that we build up around our fearless leaders often make them seem infallible and therefore, make it really hard to see them in our own lives. Davis shows the men, warts and all and that makes what they achieved not only grander but makes it seem possible that we could achieve great things in our own imperfect lives.

Bravo Kenneth C. Davis!

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