Saturday, June 22, 2013

Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn has been teaching at Williams College since 1973. The author of a dozen books, she focuses on two key periods in American history: the founding period and the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Her most recent book is 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler -- the Election amid the Storm. She is also the author of Roosevelt’s Purge: How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party, which won the Henry Adams Prize for History and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History. With her co-author, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns, she wrote The Three Roosevelts and also George Washington. She is also the editor of Something that Will Surprise the World: The Essential Writings of the Founding Fathers.

Recently I asked Dunn about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m reading Joseph Ellis’s engaging Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Ellis lives up to his reputation as an outstanding historian. He writes about the founders -- not as serene, wise, and boring “fathers” but rather as brilliant, passionate, and unruly brothers. Yes, they collaborate in founding the new constitutional republic, making it an astonishing success; but they also collide in unexpected ways, sometimes violently. In fact, his opening chapter focuses on the 49-year-old Alexander Hamilton’s death in the famous duel with Aaron Burr -- and on the psychology behind that self-destructive, hopeless act. Another fascinating chapter examines the wrenching problem of slavery -- and is significantly entitled "The Silence." No surprise that Ellis won the Pulitzer Prize for this book.
Read Dunn's New York Times essay, "When Partisans Became Partners," and learn more about 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler -- the Election amid the Storm and its author at Susan Dunn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue