I've caught up a little on the left on books I've read or listened to recently. None will get a full book note -- not because they aren't great, but because they're not in areas I'm thinking through that deeply -- but here are a few quick comments:
Founding Brothers As noted, Joseph Ellis got into trouble after this book came out for having fabricated and embellished stories of his Viet Nam service over the years. I find such behavior troubling in a presidential candidate, but less so in an author/historian -- not as close to the core of what I'm looking to that person for. I guess the biggest three insights for me were:
1. Jefferson was fuzzy-thinking when it came to matters of liberty, and self-deceiving about his own behavior. Disappointing for a UVA alumnus. He apparently believed in the power of ideas and philosophies to change human nature. I wouldn't want a son to be like him in these ways.
2. Washington is shown as having an ability to find and then cling to key principles such as winning the war by keeping the Continental Army in existence, or neutrality in foreign affairs. Although not particularly good tactically, especially early on, he seems to have been the first military strategist to master the key principles of insurgency warfare against a foreign power. It was also amazing that the press in the 1790's accused Washington of planning to betray the United States to Britain! (And this apparently hurt him deeply, although he also grasped the key principle of political life that some attacks just cannot be granted a response.)
3. John Adams was far more brilliant and influential than I had realized. Just looking at his term as president, he managed to end an undeclared war with France, scotched a plan by Hamilton to create a standing army then use it to make himself something of a King and annex Mexico and South America, and urged and began the development of naval forces -- a move that proved prescient during the War of 1812. He managed to forgive Jefferson's betrayal in later years and allow the re-establishment of their friendship. His integrity and passion are to be admired.