Book Review: The Quartet

Title: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

Author: Joseph J. Ellis

Year Published: 2015

Category: Historical Nonfiction

(It happened over 2oo years ago, so I suppose a spoiler warning is pointless?)


Back in about, I would say, November, I discovered the musical Hamilton, written by Lin Manuel Miranda. I listened to the soundtrack on Spotify and immediately fell in love. It brought an element of narrative to what I had always considered to  be, quite honestly, one of the driest eras of American History.

You might be wondering what a Broadway Musical has to do with a book review. That’s understandable. It was the reason I decided to read  Quartet. I know that, based on the book reviews I’ve done so far (all of three, if you include this one) that you might think that my reading tastes are all over the place. That is true, but Quartet is still outside of what I would normally read.

It took me just about three weeks to read. People were surprised when I told them what my ‘fun’ reading was. (As opposed to the super-riveting  Assessment for Inclusion and Language and Communication Disorders textbooks)

Overall this books was very well written. It spent the first few chapters introducing the reader to the four main people; George Washington, John Jay, James Madison, and, of course, Alexander Hamilton, as well as the two more minor (but still historic) characters; Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris (no relation).

Ellis then explains the events leading up to the drafting and ratification of the second United States Constitution, mainly emphasizing how poorly the Articles of Confederation worked. There isn’t much more to explain about the plot of the book, at least my eye (as someone who was born and raised in the US. If you have any questions feel free to leave a question in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer it.)

I find it prudent to talk about Ellis’ style of writing. One might worry that a book like this was going to be very dry. It wasn’t very dry, it was only kind of. One thing that made up for this was Ellis’ wry sarcastic style of writing. He would create an almost sort of comedy by presenting facts in such a way that the ridiculousness of the situation could be appreciated now, even if it couldn’t have been at the time.

One other aspect of Ellis’ writing that I greatly appreciated was his emphasis on the differences between then and now. He reminded us that the culture was much different in 1783, especially the thoughts on what constituted a Republic, and who should be allowed to make decisions, and even that most of the founders expected the Constitution to be rewritten in twenty to thirty years.

Growing up in the United States, I already knew the basics of the story of how the second Constitution came about, this book did add several details that I did not know. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this period of United States history.

I rate it: 3.5/5 (kind of dry subject matter, but very well written)

Goodreads says: 4.14/5 (that’s specific)

Amazon says: 4.6/5

~Note~ I find it interesting that this is the book with the highest commercial reviews that I have reviewed so far


P.S.~ I have decide to stop having specific posts for my podcast episodes as I feel like they clog up my blog too much. I will be adding a new page entitled ‘Podcast Episodes’ I’ll be linking them there and the show notes will still be available on YouTube and the Ravelry Group. I’m also hoping to start having them caption and noting which ones are captioned on the page as well.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Quartet

  1. it sounds like an interesting read – it always amazes me that those guys were able to navigate their differences and their very different motives to create a document that has lasted this long and until recently, I would say, held us together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Sorry it took me so long to respond. I’m pretty sure WordPress eats the comments on the book review posts. It happens every time!
      It’s amazing to me too, that something written under the general assumption that it would last only a couple decades, has remained for as long as it has. I think that has something to do with the idea that there is nothing wrong with amending it, although, I think that that idea is lost sometimes…

      Liked by 1 person

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