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The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah…
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The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation… (editie 2011)

door Joshua Kendall (Auteur)

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From the author of "The Man Who Made Lists" comes an absorbing biography of Noah Webster, whose name is synonymous with the dictionary he created, but whose life story is not nearly so ubiquitous.
Titel:The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture
Auteurs:Joshua Kendall (Auteur)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2011), Edition: 1st Edition, 2nd Printing., 368 pages
Verzamelingen:Jouw bibliotheek


The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture door Joshua Kendall

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Toon 5 van 5
I have been plodding along with the book, wanting to finish it but not being drawn in to it. I find him interesting, but at the same time boring. And for someone so broke he certainly travelled a lot. I guess this book just didn't live up to my expectations. The author's voice was difficult to follow. Occasionally there were leaps that I couldn't make and the sentence structure was bewildering. And I find it unforgiving that a nonfiction author does not cite sources. I wish it had been different. ( )
  book58lover | Apr 7, 2015 |
I've read little about Noah Webster. He was a native of Connecticut. He significantly impacted how Americans thought about themselves post Revolution and encouraged the adoption of the constitution over the original confederation which granted much less power to the centralized government. He considered Franklin and metor and Washington an admirer. He ran a news magazine/newspaper for several years with the first daily newspaper in New York. He was one of the most prolifican authors of his time. He was loathed by Jeffersonian Repulicans who called him many hard names and felt he was to pro-French and diagreed with his political views.

He moved bact to New Haven CT to write his dictionary for which he probably best remembered. Massive and thorough it took almost two decades for him to compile. However, in his lifetime his most popular achievement was probably his blue backed speller that was widely used as the spelling book for five generations of Americans. He lobbied for and was able to get states to pass copywrite laws that protected his ability to gain royalties for his speller and eventually was able to see copywrite law passed on a federal level.

I'm not sure this was the best book on the subject. The author talks about Webster's motivations and attitudes in such way I wonder where he gets his info from and he doesn't cite his sources very well. The author doesn't seem to be much of a fan of Webster and it shows.

( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
Noah Webster was an uncredited Founding Father. Although he was not a signatory to either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, Webster was a Revolutionary War soldier, a confidante to George Washington, and his widely printed, prickly pieces about patriotism, energized the colonies towards unification.

Born into a religious, emotionally unreachable family, Webster was burdened by low self-esteem; in adulthood it often bounced into periods of thunderous rage and angst, which disrupted the household, alienated friends, and dashed his career progression, intermittently.

According to Kendall, “…Webster’s mercurial temperament would frequently leave him feeling like an aggrieved outsider…This…would spark an equally persistent desire to be heard.”

But calm would come—sometimes–from his most favorite, focused occupation: words. From childhood he loved to think about them, and imagine their origins. This activity organized him, psychologically, and provided an antidote to recurring distress.

Propelled to attain fame and recognition, Webster had difficulties discovering a pleasing occupation after his 1778 graduation from Yale. Early attempts as a lawyer failed, teaching positions were arduous, but he had a fortunate talent imparting knowledge to kids. His 1783 speller, A Grammatical Institute, of the English Language, Comprising, an Early, Concise, and Systematic Method of Education, Designed for the Use of English Schools in America, was an enormous success. It delighted school children, and simplified passé British spellings and pronunciations. Suddenly, at the age of 25, he was a nationally recognized writer with cache. The textbook would have 385 editions during Webster’s lifetime, teach five generations to read, and sell 100 million copies within the next century—more than any other American book–except The Bible. It would also inaugurate the Spelling Bee.

Webster was now a phenomenon, but most of the “image” was craftily calculated. He was a natural and relentless promoter who manipulated front page advertising space from major publishers, journeyed from New Hampshire to Georgia to lecture about his literary pursuits—the modern book tour—and ingratiated Influential People into endorsing his prose with first-time-ever blurbs. He often wrote favorite reviews about his work as well, pseudonymously.

During his promotional travels, Webster got in the habit of counting the number of houses in each city; this morphed into the first census. Later, he was a newspaper editor, Massachusetts State delegate, and a co-founder of Amherst College. When the mysterious yellow fever swept through the East Coast in the 1790s, Webster diligently tracked deaths, interviewed doctors, turned libraries upside down, and wrote a book about disease to unravel the enigma–but without luck.

Webster’s most ambitious plan was for his dictionary. The first, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, contained approximately 40,000 words, appeared in 1807, but was poorly received. It sold only 2,500 copies, and sent Webster into near-poverty.

But the two-volume, Webster’s American Dictionary released in 1828 had 70,000 entries—including 4,000 scientific terms—was immediately celebrated, “… and suddenly [Webster] commanded respect from America’s literati who had long abused him.” Within eight years the first edition of 25,000 copies had been purchased, a trend which would forever escalate.

Though critically praised and financially prosperous for Webster, his upward flow in stature did not continue, posthumously. He proved—over time– to be an unappealing character study for historians, but Kendall, with his even hand, legitimately maintains that a Webster “renaissance” is appropriate—and deserved.

Had it not been for this “Forgotten Founding Father” America might have sounded more British, and dictionary usage would never have come into vogue—for children or adults.

This review by David Bruce Smith first appeared in The Chestertown Spy. ( )
  DBSpublications | Nov 10, 2011 |
This book started out slow for me but by the end I was really enjoying Kendall's biography of Noah Webster. It turns out that Webster was much more involved in the early history of the United States after the revolution than I knew. He had extensive correspondence with other national figures such as Washington and Franklin and participated in his local and state governments for much of his life. Of course, one of Webster's greatest interests was in seeing that Americans had a common and standardized language. Hence the Speller that most Americans used to learn to read for decades and the dictionary whose revisions are still in print. Recommended for those interested in US history and for those interested in lexicography.
  hailelib | Sep 23, 2011 |
In the time of our country's founding, many men both young and old, stood to shoulder the burden of creating a new country, even though not all were recognized for their efforts. Noah Webster was one of these men, who was an influential politician, a close friend of both Washington and Franklin, and was responsible for bring the first catalogue of American English into existence.
  SalemAthenaeum | Jun 17, 2011 |
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AuteursnaamRolType auteurWerk?Status
Joshua Kendallprimaire auteuralle editiesberekend
Morey, ArthurVertellerSecondaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd
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From the author of "The Man Who Made Lists" comes an absorbing biography of Noah Webster, whose name is synonymous with the dictionary he created, but whose life story is not nearly so ubiquitous.

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