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Extended Audio Sample The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers Audiobook, by Thomas Fleming Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00921658986175 out of 53.00921658986175 out of 53.00921658986175 out of 53.00921658986175 out of 53.00921658986175 out of 5 3.01 (217 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Fleming Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455198719
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With his usual storytelling flair and unparalleled research, Tom Fleming offers a compelling, intimate look at the founders—George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison—and the women who played essential roles in their lives.

From hot-tempered Mary Ball Washington to promiscuous Rachel Lavien Hamilton, the founding fathers’ mothers powerfully shaped their sons’ visions of domestic life. But lovers and wives played more critical roles as friends and often partners in fame. We learn of the youthful Washington’s tortured love for the coquettish Sarah Fairfax, wife of his close friend; of Franklin’s two “wives,” one in London and one in Philadelphia; of Adams’ long absences, which required a lonely, deeply unhappy Abigail to keep home and family together for years on end; of Hamilton’s adulterous betrayal of his wife and their reconciliation; and how the brilliant Madison was jilted by a flirtatious fifteen-year-old and went on to marry the effervescent Dolley, who helped make this shy man into a popular president. Jefferson’s controversial relationship to Sally Hemings is also examined, with a different vision of where his heart lay.

Fleming nimbly takes us through a great deal of early American history, as the founding fathers strove to reconcile their private and public lives, often beset by a media every bit as gossip-seeking and inflammatory as ours today. He offers a powerful look at the challenges women faced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While often brilliant and articulate, the wives of the founding fathers all struggled with the distractions and dangers of frequent childbearing and searing anxiety about infant mortality. All the more remarkable, then, that these women loomed so large in the lives of their husbands—and, in some cases, their country.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Thomas Fleming is one of our most interesting scholars of the Revolutionary period, and in his insightful latest work he does not disappoint. Focusing on the wives and women of the Founding Fathers, The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers is thoroughly fresh, frequently fun, at times touching, and always fascinating. A significant achievement.”

    Jay Winik, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Upheaval and April 1865

  • “[A] solid, sometimes titillating account…Showing the more human and sometimes unlikeable sides of our founders, the author writes good history, debunking more scandal than he confirms.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] gossipy but thoroughly enjoyable examination of the personal––and particularly marital––relationships of our early national icons…The overall effect is to reveal them as fallible humans without detracting from their well-deserved status.”

    Booklist

  • “Tom Fleming is a rare combination—a fine historian and a fine writer. His assessment of George Washington’s relationships with Sally Fairfax and Martha Custis is right on target.”

    Peter R. Henriques, author of Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington

  • “With his ample gifts as a novelist and his brilliant historical reach, the esteemed Thomas Fleming never disappoints...A remarkable achievement—and hard to put down.”

    Brenda Wineapple, author of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • “JFK had Marilyn Monroe, and Bill Clinton had Monica, but that doesn’t mean twentieth-century presidents had all the fun. ‘Knowing and understanding the women in their lives adds pathos and depth to the public dimensions of the founding fathers’ political journeys,’ Thomas Fleming writes in this well-researched peek into the boudoirs of America's political architects.”                      

    Washington Post

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 2/17/2014

    " Martha Washington was a kindly grandma. John Adams was vain and Abigail, a prude. Ben Franklin was a dirty old man and Alexander Hamilton was a horrible husband. Thomas Jefferson may not have made sweet sweet love to Sally and Dolly Madison was a diva. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 2/9/2014

    " I like to read about the personal lives of famous people. Especially those who lived a long time ago. It is interesting to see how they lived and how the women in their lives were responsible for a lot of their public opinions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dsfraelich1 | 1/25/2014

    " Very Interesting and enlightening about the private lives of our founding fathers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grumpus | 1/20/2014

    " Great summary of six of the founding fathers for those who may not want the minutia of their entire lives but still containing bits of new information that the history buff may not have known (like me). I haven't done much reading on James Madison so the part of the book devoted to him was particularly interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathryne | 1/8/2014

    " Very interesting and thought provoking. I also thought that the DNA evidence about Thomas Jefferson was certain but this books shows that there is still must discussion on the subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 12/31/2013

    " I enjoyed reading this book. The book was an eye opening treat into the joys and heartbreaks of our founding fathers ( and mothers). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracey | 12/30/2013

    " I did not read all of the chapters. I focused on Thomas Jefferson for right now. I found the book well written. I plan to go back to this book later to read more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 12/25/2013

    " Enjoyed learning more about the women in the lives of our founding fathers. A fast read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 12/12/2013

    " Pretty interesting. I liked getting a different view of our founding fathers, and they were quite contradictory to what I originally thought. The book's description of Dolley Madison intrigued me, and I may look for a biography just about her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosemary | 12/6/2013

    " Interesting stories of the Founders. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 10/28/2013

    " Rare is the work of nonfiction is that makes the reader say OM NOM NOM. But this is one of those books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pamela | 8/10/2013

    " Very good,4.3. The presentation of family life and struggles of leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison broadens understanding. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 7/30/2012

    " Not sure if it is quite a 4 star, but it is an easy and interesting read of the domestic lives of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton against the backdrop of the political times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela Montgomery | 6/23/2012

    " Excellent overview. I'm not even American, and I found this book fascinating. A nice unbiased summary of the Sally Hemings/Jefferson debate. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fred Gemeinhardt | 5/22/2012

    " An excellent book! Should be required reading for high school students. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 3/19/2012

    " Learned so much about early American politics and the women who made it happen. Have a renewed appreciation for Dolly Madison. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee Kaufman | 2/7/2012

    " If you are a history nerd..this one's for you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maria | 11/15/2011

    " I really enjoyed this! It was incredibly interesting and very readable. I was a little sad to finish it! This is the first book I've read by Thomas Fleming. I may try another because I liked his style and his well-researched and seemingly balanced way of presenting history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 5/26/2011

    " Learned lots of new details, not all of them flattering which is a nice change from most books of this sort. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/11/2011

    " I can't say enough about this book. I think it is insightful, interesting, and offers a different viewpoint than regular founding father's bios. I also love that it is like six bio's in one. I will surley re-read this book in 10 years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Betsy | 4/25/2011

    " I really loved all the personal details in this book, especially about Thomas Jefferson. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 4/19/2011

    " If you are a history nerd..this one's for you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/27/2011

    " Not sure if it is quite a 4 star, but it is an easy and interesting read of the domestic lives of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton against the backdrop of the political times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 1/23/2011

    " Most of this information is available in other books. But Fleming gives the information a unique perspective. If you are interested in the revolutionary figures, this is worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 1/22/2011

    " Pretty interesting. I liked getting a different view of our founding fathers, and they were quite contradictory to what I originally thought. The book's description of Dolley Madison intrigued me, and I may look for a biography just about her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/3/2011

    " I like to read about the personal lives of famous people. Especially those who lived a long time ago. It is interesting to see how they lived and how the women in their lives were responsible for a lot of their public opinions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 12/15/2010

    " Apparently, the only rake amongst them was Alexander Hamiltion, which I find hard to believe. How does Ben Franklin come off as faithful, if distant, husband?
    Also the chapter on Madison isn't so much about him, but more about Dolley and her Martha Stewart like abilities. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dsfraelich1 | 12/11/2010

    " Very Interesting and enlightening about the private lives of our founding fathers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 5/27/2010

    " Rare is the work of nonfiction is that makes the reader say OM NOM NOM. But this is one of those books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Marie | 5/15/2010

    " Gave good insight into the women behind the Founding Fathers "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/4/2010

    " I can't say enough about this book. I think it is insightful, interesting, and offers a different viewpoint than regular founding father's bios. I also love that it is like six bio's in one. I will surley re-read this book in 10 years. "

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About the Author

Thomas Fleming is the author of more than fifty books of historical fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestseller The Officers’ Wives. A distinguished historian, he has served as president of the Society of American Historians and the PEN American Center, spent ten years as chairman of the New York American Revolution Round Table, and is the senior scholar at the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge. He has received honors and awards from the Colonial Dames of America, National Catholic Press Association, New Jersey Historical Commission, and American Association for State and Local History. His awards include Boston University’s Burack Award for Lifetime Achievement in American History, the Union League Club of New York’s Abraham Lincoln Award for Outstanding Contributions to American Literature, and the 2012 Gomez Mill House Pioneer Award. In his honor, the American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia has named its annual book prize the Thomas Fleming Award. A frequent guest on PBS, A&E, and the History Channel, he has contributed articles to American Heritage, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and other magazines.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards: in 2011 for Biography and History, in for History and Historical Fiction, and in 2009 for Nonfiction and Culture. His work has also garnered multiple AudioFile Earphones awards, and he has been nominated for an Audie Award. He 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.