Synopses & Reviews
In this action-packed history, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger unfolds the epic story of Patrick Henry, who roused Americans to fight government tyranny — both British and American. Remembered largely for his cry for liberty or death,” Henry was actually the first (and most colorful) of America's Founding Fathers — first to call Americans to arms against Britain, first to demand a bill of rights, and first to fight the growth of big government after the Revolution.
As quick with a rifle as he was with his tongue, Henry was America's greatest orator and courtroom lawyer, who mixed histrionics and hilarity to provoke tears or laughter from judges and jurors alike. Henry's passion for liberty (as well as his very large family), suggested to many Americans that he, not Washington, was the real father of his country.
This biography is history at its best, telling a story both human and philosophical. As Unger points out, Henry's words continue to echo across America and inspire millions to fight government intrusion in their daily lives.
"A veteran biographer specializing in the Founding Fathers offers a short, sharp life of the Virginia patriot....A fine appreciation
"[An] engaging popular biography....An appealing element here is the wealth of excerpts from Henry's legendary speeches and revealing letters, seamlessly woven in with Unger's narrative....A good choice for general readers seeking a relatively brief account of Patrick Henry's political activity and contributions to early America." Library Journal
"[A] vivid biography of the Virginia firebrand." Wall Street Journal
"Harlow Giles Unger does a remarkable job of putting together the life and times of this most noted but little known Founder. Unger provides a startling history of the man who, though never in combat, remains one of the great patriots of his new country....Unger is not only a superior storyteller, he is also a gifted researcher; he sweeps the reader into the story, also enveloping us in the times....The book brings fresh insights to the process of building a nation with little direction from which to work....If you want to know what the Founders meant while deliberating the creation of the Confederation and the Constitution, and if you wish to understand why they made the decisions they did, read Lion of Liberty." New York Journal of Books
"With quotes from Henry's vivid oratory, Unger traces his rise in Virginia society before the Revolution. Though not quite a rags-to-riches tale — his folks were well-established lawyers and clergymen — Lion of Liberty tells entertainingly of how a homespun-clad upcountryman with an odd accent fitted into a British-trained, plantation-owning aristocracy of velvet jackets and white neckcloths." Associated Press
"Unger recounts Henry's life and explores its ramifications in contemporary America. Whether you find it cautionary or inspiring might depend on your own political beliefs....[Unger] brings an ardent spirit of libertarianism to this engrossing and articulate biography; he argues implicitly that in Henry's aversion to a strong central government, the tea-party movement finds its philosophical cornerstone....Unger's telling of Henry's story is a beacon of vivid, accessible and thought-provoking biography." Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Excellent...[Unger] does remarkable work untangling a difficult subject....Fantastically engaging...Unger proves to be impressively sensitive and perceptive when chronicling some of the patriot's darker moments....[He] is able to weave the sometimes disparate, frequently contradictory strands of Henry's life into a coherent, absorbing narrative. He's adept at explaining Henry's proto-libertarianism, which will sound familiar to current American readers, as new political movements suspicious of the federal government have dominated the American conversation in the past several months. Unger's book is the perfect introduction to the founder whose rhetoric started a revolution." NPR.org
A compelling new biography of Patrick Henry, a monumental figure in American history, hailed in his time as the first of the nations Founding Fathers.
About the Author
A veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator, and historian, Harlow Giles Unger is a former Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History at Mount Vernon and is the author of sixteen books, including five other biographies of America's Founding Fathers. He lives in New York.