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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers by Carl J. Richard



Great book even though it was not quite what I thought it was.

So, if it was not quite what I thought it was, what is it?

Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers is a very succinct, well-written and entertaining history of the Ancient Greeks and the Romans with a little commentary at the end of each section about how these histories influenced the Founding Fathers. For example, he has seven pages on a history of the Spartans (probably the best short explanation of the Spartans I have ever read) and two pages about the lessons learned. There are 13 pages on the Persian Wars and just one page about the lesson learned.
"Declaration of Independence" by John Trumbull

This book does fill a serious gap in our education nowadays. Unfortunately, in the world of education, it is not uncommon to think of Western history as not important to our lives ("Hey! Ho! Western culture's got to go!" - Stanford protesters in 1988). But, this book demonstrates that the Greek and Romans histories were the foundational documents for the American experiment in self-government. They provided the examples of what worked, what did not work and the pitfalls and dangers of the operation of a republic. Sadly, you will find much more in modern textbooks about the supposedly extensive influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on the Founding Fathers than you will find about the extensive and pervasive influences of Cicero, Cato, the experiences of Athens and the Roman Republic.

The author, Richard, notes in his last sentence: "Perhaps it is time to learn whatever lessons the ancients can teach the twenty-first century." (p. 181)

Amen to that.

This quick and delightful read is highly recommended.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers

Reviewed on March 10, 2009.

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