About some of our Founding Fathers

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

About some of our Founding FathersBy DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

“The Quotable Founding Fathers” and “Pioneers of Promotion” address two different kinds of the men who molded us.

The timeliness of “The Quotable Founding Fathers” first published in 2004 (ed. Buckner F. Melton, Jr., indexed, Potomac Books, trade paperback, 345 pages, $24.95) has led to its recent resurgence. Subtitled “A Treasury of 2,500 Wise and Witty Quotations from the Men and Women Who Created America,” it goes beyond most collections of pithy observations to a wealth of beefy entries, some longer than 100 words, to develop whole ideas. It draws from the essays, diaries, letters, speeches and sermons of more than 400 thinkers and leaders and presents such entire documents as the Mayflower Compact (1620).

Yet it also intersperses short insights: “Show is not substance: realities govern wise men” (William Penn) and “It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power” (John Adams) and more.

Subjects range from Adams (John, John Quincy and Samuel), advisors, bigotry, conscience, and death, to good and evil, impeachment, lawyers, rights of the people, secrecy, separation of power, tyranny, war, women and youth.

“The Quotable Founding Fathers” provides ready reference as a permanent home library addition, as well as a thorough course in the meaning of democracy.

“Pioneers of Promotion: How Press Agents for Buffalo Bill, P.T. Barnum, and the World’s Columbian Exposition Created Modern Marketing” (by Joe Dobrow, color and b&w illus., indexed, University of Oklahoma Press, hardcover, 391 pages, $32.95) has just appeared on the stands. In it, business history writer Dobrow explores the game-changing innovations of three largely forgotten Gilded Age marketing forefathers – John M. Burke, Tody Hamilton and Moses P. Handy – who essentially invented the press agent’s bag of tricks that today we take for granted. Burke, for example, dove on a letter from Mark Twain to Buffalo Bill Cody praising his Wild West Show. At once Burke placed it in newspapers across the country, launching the phenomenon of celebrity endorsements.

In due course, Cody became more famous than the U.S. President, Hamilton turned Barnum & Bailey’s traveling circus into the Greatest Show on Earth and Handy hyped a fair that attracted more than 27 million visitors.

From John Adams to John Burke, dig into these readers’ goldmines to learn what makes us tick.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Story First Published: 2018-06-15