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Download The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Websters Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture Audiobook, by Joshua Kendall Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (149 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joshua Kendall Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2011 ISBN: 9781101459690
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American’s own The Professor and the Madman: a story of Noah Webster, author of American English

Noah Webster’s name is now synonymous with the dictionary he created, but his story is not nearly so ubiquitous.

Webster hobnobbed with various Founding Fathers and was a young confidant of George Washington and Ben Franklin. He started America’s first daily newspaper, predating Alexander Hamilton’s New York Post. His “blue-backed speller” for schoolchildren sold millions of copies and influenced early copyright law. But perhaps most important, Webster was an ardent supporter of a unified, definitively American culture, distinct from the British, at a time when the United States of America were anything but unified—and his dictionary of American English is a testament to that.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lady of the Lake | 2/5/2014

    " A very interesting and well written bio on Noha Webster. There is certainly more than the first American Dictionary to credit Webster with...as if the creation of the dictionary is not enough of a contribution! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 2/3/2014

    " This book was an entertaining introduction to Noah Webster. I never knew how innovative a marketer he was or that he was so instrumental in the establishment of American copyright laws. I also thought it was very interesting that he counted houses everywhere he went -- collecting data that ended up being useful to others. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Holly | 1/22/2014

    " I would say that this book is 90% information I had never heard about Noah Webster, so it was very interesting and presented in a very readable, engaging way. I had no idea he was contemporaries with Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, etc., or that he was so involved in politics and shaping the wonderful nation we have today. What an amazing man. I also appreciated the author's willingness to discuss Webster's faults, as it made him feel so much more real. But man, what a difficult man he would have been to live with! Props to his wife and kids, for sure. Now I want to read about Samuel Johnson's dictionary and about the OED compilation. I love dictionaries, so much. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marilyn | 1/19/2014

    " I guess one needs to be somewhat compulsive (OCD?) in order to compile/write the definitive dictionary for a "new" language. Webster had a vision and was relentless in its pursuit. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anne | 1/17/2014

    " I'll never remember all the names and dates, but do recognize most names. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matthew | 1/9/2014

    " A little slow and too overbearing at times, but a very interesting look at one of our founders. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Theresa Porter | 1/6/2014

    " Excellent work. Noah Webster has many Autism like symptoms which made him a great maker of lists "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gerry | 12/23/2013

    " so very interesting - should be on every History buffs shelf ! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linconter | 12/22/2013

    " If only there were some in-depth talk about HOW Webster actually went about collecting the definitions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corinna Kinman | 12/14/2013

    " learned lots of new stuff, but never finished the entire book. well written, but kind of pendantic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yvonne Carter | 12/10/2013

    " I learned a lot about Noah Webster, a compulsive list maker, active during formation of our government and Constitution and friend to George Washington. It was dry in a few parts "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 4/5/2013

    " The next edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary is due out in 2013...this book makes me want to pre-order it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anie | 2/26/2013

    " Engaging and beautifully full of big words (as benefits a biography of a lexicographer). Kendall's portrayal of Webster is both honest---he points out the man's many faults---but also rather fond of this rather pugnacious and irascible lexicographer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chaz Weber | 12/30/2012

    " In-depth look at little known historical figure, but often slow-plodding. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martin Whatwouldthefoundersthink | 11/12/2012

    " I enjoyed this book. It wasn't a hagiography like Unger's biography of Webster. I reviewed it here at some length. The author is a nice guy too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dylan Benito | 4/24/2012

    " Kendall manages to write an entertaining book on one of our premier lexicographers. I found it entertaining and fun, but I have the feeling it might be a bit dry for people who aren't word nerds. If you like words and historical biographies, you'll probably enjoy this book as much as I did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jai | 4/13/2012

    " Rarely do I indulge in Revolutionary/early American reading for leisure, but this book was well worth it. A great argument and in-depth outline of Noah Webster's life, the founder of the American English language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Benjamin Fowler | 8/28/2011

    " Excellent read of a troubled man that helped set the tone for American culture. Worth the read for any American lit teacher or lover of words. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 6/21/2011

    " 3.5 stars. Interesting narrative of the decades-long journey undertaken by Webster in the determined pursuit of his goal: a truly American dictionary of the English language. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 5/20/2011

    " I really wanted to like this book but I found the author was not linear enough for my taste. The information seemed well researched but very jumbled. "

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About the Author

Joshua C. Kendall is the author of The Man Who Made Lists, about the creation of Roget’s Thesaurus, and The Forgotten Founding Father, a biography of Noah Webster, the lexicographer responsible for Webster’s Dictionary. He is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Psychology Today, and BusinessWeek, among others. He is currently an associate fellow of Yale University’s Trumbull College.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. As a narrator, he has received nineteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award.