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Descrição da editora
Using the unique approach that he has employed in his previous books, author, columnist, and television commentator James Burke shows us our connections to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Over the two hundred-plus years that separate us, these connections are often surprising and always fascinating. Burke turns the signers from historical icons into flesh-and-blood people: Some were shady financial manipulators, most were masterful political operators, a few were good human beings, and some were great men. The network that links them to us is also peopled by all sorts, from spies and assassins to lovers and adulterers, inventors and artists. The ties may be more direct for some of us than others, but we are all linked in some way to these founders of our nation.
If you enjoyed Martin Sheen as the president on television's The West Wing, then you're connected to founder Josiah Bartlett. The connection from signer Bartlett to Sheen includes John Paul Jones; Judge William Cooper, father of James Fenimore; Sir Thomas Brisbane, governor of New South Wales; an incestuous astronomer; an itinerant math teacher; early inventors of television; and pioneering TV personality Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the inspiration for Ramon Estevez's screen name, Martin Sheen.
In his latest, columnist and author Burke (Twin Tracks) looks at the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence through his history-as-networking perspective, "an approach I've been using for thirty years... that's recently become known as 'six degrees of separation.' " Spraying historical tidbits like buckshot, Burke looks for the hidden links behind (seemingly) everything; in chapter three, for example, Burke begins with unremarkable signatory William Whipple, considers his part in the Battle of Saratoga, pursues the defeated British general "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne back to his playwriting debut, penned in celebration of the earl of Derby's marriage, for whom a new annual horse race would be named in 1780; from there, Burke is indeed off to the races: the next four pages cover, among other topics, the first strip cartoon, Napoleon's favorite surgeon, the Order of Saint Margaret, the invention of the Geiger counter and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association which, in 2002, named as its president a man named, yes, William Whipple. The effect is less like connecting the dots than surfing the Web at breakneck speed: an impressively dizzying reading experience with little depth. Readers looking for analysis, or even a sustained narrative, will be disappointed in these overstuffed micro-lessons, but they're perfect for trivia buffs (or those who just wish books were more like the internet).