Benjamin Franklin’s protégé, the editor of Common Sense, and George Washington’s surgeon general, Benjamin Rush is one of the unsung Founding Fathers whose place in the American mythos Fried tries to restore.
[Rush is] sympathetic and readable ... [while highlighting] contradictions in Rush’s character, flaws that mired him in controversy and that help to explain why he still requires rehabilitation ... Given his many undoubted achievements, why was Rush destined to be relegated to the supporting cast of Founders? Here, as Mr. Fried emphasizes in a perceptive analysis, his intimacy with so many famous men worked against him ... Through the efforts of Mr. Fried...what Benjamin Rush characterized as 'the distant and more enlightened generations' are now better placed to judge him.
Fried's massive tome reads like a true biography, chronologically tracing every bit of detail related to what could have influenced Rush and, in turn, where he had influence. The book serves as a superb primer on the Revolutionary and early federal periods of America. Broken up into two parts, the 42 chapters are merely numbered and sometimes end for no reason seemingly other than length ... No anecdote seems too trite for Fried. For example, he covers fruitless romantic flings in detail... Fried seems to strain to place Rush near important names and events ... At other times, Fried's passion for detail is more than warranted ...
Sometimes Fried's inexperience with the period can show ... but...[Fried's book's] enjoyable...and successfully present[s] a man who never quit, even in the face of failure or public humiliation.
Best-selling, award-winning journalist and author Fried...illuminates the importance of a lesser-known Founding Father, drawing on previously unpublished primary sources ... Fried’s reclamation of this important, overlooked American founder is an invaluable addition to American history collections and a solid recommendation to biography fans.