Leap in the Dark: Struggle to Create the American Republic Book Report

Pages: 3 (1080 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: American History

¶ … Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

In his book, a Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic, author John Ferling wishes to explain the American Revolution, specifically the politics of the American Revolution, in such a way that the modern reader can look at Revolutionary history and see the roots of today's modern politic system. He focuses on the push-pull between the desire for a confederation and the desire for a union with a strong central government and how this tension has permeated much of American political history. He also focuses on Revolutionary leaders and how their individual personalities were critical to shaping American political process. He also looks at the interaction between pecuniary self-interest and political ideals and approaches the political process from the point-of-view that economics rather than ideal is the primary political motivator. Finally, he incorporated a theme throughout the book that American history, particularly during the Revolutionary period, was marked by these "leaps in the dark" that were led by people willing to abandon what was known in order to explore something new.

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I feel like Ferling's prologue provided a very good introduction to the book and helped me identify and look for the unifying themes that he would use throughout seemingly diverse elements of the book. As a result, I found the book easy to read. I also found his language to be easily accessible. However, he did use elevated language and was obviously targeting a college-level or above audience. Given that the average American has an eighth or ninth grade reading level, this book might be considered a difficult or inaccessible read for them, which is a shame, because in the book Ferling does a very interesting job of explaining the evolution of the modern American political process.

TOPIC: Book Report on Leap in the Dark: Struggle to Create the American Republic Assignment

My favorite part of the book was "Chapter Ten: Prosperous at Home, Respectable Abroad." I always had some understanding that part of the American mystique was the idea of the prosperity that seems uniquely American. After all, the idea that Americans have the ability to build prosperity and that each generation has this opportunity and are not stuck in the socio-economic class of their birth is a cornerstone of the American dream. However, I had never really considered how much debt accumulation has been a part of wealth accumulation in American history. Looking at the debts held by the federal government and the several states as a result of loans they took out to finance the Revolutionary War; one sees significant precursors to modern American economic cycles, which reflect borrowing for wars and a generally prosperous post-war period. In more modern times, the most dramatic example of this boom-bust cycle was World War II and the post-war economic boom that occurred following that war. In addition, during that chapter, Ferling discussed Jefferson's political dealings in France, which have long been of interest to me. It is interesting to see how Jefferson helped influence France's own revolution, but also see how changes in his personal life that occurred while he was in France, including an affair with a married Englishwoman, helped change his demeanor and possibly impacted the course of American politics.

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