Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots by Thomas S. Kidd asks the question, “Patriot or traitor?” of one of America’s most renown founding fathers. This historical account examines the life of Patrick Henry, his early years, his political motives, and personal beliefs in order to understand why the same man who swore, “Give me liberty or give me death,” refused to endorse the U.S. Constitution.
Well written and well researched, Patrick Henry is comprised of 256 pages organized into ten content-heavy chapters. This biography includes 35 pages of references notes and an extensive bibliography. Formatted like an extended persuasive essay, the book opens with a thesis and concludes with an epilogue.
Kidd is a professor of history and a senior fellow of the Institute of Studies of Religion at Baylor University. An excellent writer, Kidd has written six books, including The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, which earned the support of the NEH Fellowship in 2006-07.
Kidd provides a rich background in which to understand the events that shaped Patrick Henry and led to his controversial choice. The author defines historic and political terms and includes atmospheric and cultural details that help immerse readers in the world of the 1700s. Kidd’s vocabulary is a refreshing blend of the eloquent language of Patrick Henry’s era and today’s direct, journalistic-styled English. All these elements are utilized in exploring themes of loyalty, patriotism, and identity.
Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots provides a credible and intellectual reading experience. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and is fascinated with America’s early years. – Estee B. Wells, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Most Americans know Patrick Henry as a fiery speaker whose pronouncement “Give me liberty or give me death!” rallied American defiance to the British Crown. But Henry’s skills as an orator—sharpened in the small towns and courtrooms of colonial Virginia—are only one part of his vast, but largely forgotten, legacy. As historian Thomas S. Kidd shows, Henry cherished a vision of America as a virtuous republic with a clearly circumscribed central government. These ideals brought him into bitter conflict with other Founders and were crystallized in his vociferous opposition to the U.S. Constitution.
In Patrick Henry, Kidd pulls back the curtain on one of our most radical, passionate Founders, showing that until we understand Henry himself, we will neglect many of the Revolution’s animating values.