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Nothing like a little American history just in time for the fourth of July. I just saw this cover and thought it looked great, and reading your review only cemented that. I love the section you quoted about why we have a five-pointed star. It makes a lot of sense, and I like hearing the sort of everyday explanations for things that seem obvious now.

I think this will be an awesome book. For one I love World History and have never been to her home and would love to visit. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller

Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Later in the book, Miller describes an order that Ross filled: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Published April 27th by Henry Holt and Co. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Betsy Ross and the Making of America , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Betsy Ross and the Making of America. Lists with This Book.

May 27, Oldroses rated it it was amazing Shelves: Normally when I review a book, I first read the book and write my review, then I read reviews written by other people. It was not a flattering review. Miller, a professor of American History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, of "sentimental fictio Normally when I review a book, I first read the book and write my review, then I read reviews written by other people. Miller, a professor of American History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, of "sentimental fiction" which "weakens her own historical prose, which is strong enough to stand on its own" and "defeats the ultimate purpose of her book, which is to rediscover the woman behind the legend.

Intrigued enough to buy and read the book despite the poor review. By the end of the first chapter, I had forgotten about the scathing review and was completely hooked. This was American history as I had never read it before.

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These were real people and real experiences, not the usual dry recitations of politics and battles and tactics. I never liked American history. I felt it was boring compared to the thousands of years of history of Europe and the Mediterranean.

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It is precisely the "sentimental fiction" that makes this book interesting to the general reader. The yellow fever epidemics that killed so many residents of Philadelphia are more meaningful when we learn of the various family members lost. Rather than just numbers, they are people that we have come to know. Small details like the families who were split between loyalty to the king and loyalty to the rebellion, illustrates the upheaval caused by this colonial rebellion much better than the usual political analysis commonly found in books on the American Revolution.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America

Not only was her life prior to and during the Revolution tumultuous three husbands and seven daughters , but just trying to keep all the people, many of whom had the same names, straight made my head spin. And, in the best Hollywood tradition, leaves room for a "sequel", a more in depth analysis of her life after the Revolution, to be written by the author or another historian. After I finished the book, I went back and read the review again. My second reading of the review led me to the conclusion that the problem lay in the intention of the author.

The reviewer was critiquing the book from a scholarly point of view whereas it seemed to me that the author intended her book to be read by both scholars and general readers. Scholars are more interested in facts and conclusions supported by facts. Hence the harsh review. General readers like myself do tend to speculate as we read. What was she thinking? How would I have reacted in this situation? We enjoy seeing events through the eyes and emotions of ordinary people like ourselves rather than from the lofty perspective of presidents, kings and generals. View all 3 comments. Jun 29, Marie rated it liked it Shelves: This is one tough book to crack.

Instead of being focused on Betsy Ross, it is a portrait of Philadelphia and how the colonies reacted to British authority before and during the American Revolution of 's. For the first twenty years of Betsy's life, the book comprises of about pages of the aforementioned history of America with accounts of the extended ancestry of Betsy Ross. It is very wordy, but once a chapter winds down, we get a small morsel of what could have been with an entertainin This is one tough book to crack. It is very wordy, but once a chapter winds down, we get a small morsel of what could have been with an entertaining foreshadowing tidbit of how something horrid is going to happen that will change Betsy's life forever.

That happened several times, I turned the page excitedly, and we were back to the history lesson that was an automatic sleeping pill. Betsy Ross whose given name was Elizabeth Griscom at her birth in , is known as the legendary patriotic woman who met with George Washington in her parlour and sewed America's first official flag. As it is the stuff of legend and most probably not very true, the author Marla Miller sets out to establish the facts surrounding Betsy, her work, and other flag maker's work.

In this all encompassing account of Colonial America, the author explains the political views of Betsy's immediate family and those that she came across or married into, which was a mixture of radicals, loyalists, patriots and conservatives. We do read about how Betsy gets her start in the seamstress business as she works as a young lady in an upholstery shop. The vision of Betsy simply sewing flags is shattered as we learn that Betsy was much more skilled than that as she was a part of the decorator business with chair coverings and the rare window coverings and many other household items.

Betsy's heritage and her great grandfather the talented builder Andrew Griscom are a strong focus in the book. The Boston Tea Party and the events that lead up to the Americans rebelling against the British rule who kept on taxing the Americans comprises the first half of the book. This brings us to the sad event of Betsy's first husband, John Ross, when he died mysteriously.

No one really knows for sure what happened to him; he could have been injured while working with military weapons, or he could have been afflicted with a mental sickness that had also plagued his mother. Interestingly enough, the author recounts how many citizens of America wanted to simply not be be subject to the taxes of the British, but were not expecting to actually go to war. It was the radicals who were loud enough to be heard that seemingly forced the rest of the citizens to go along with whatever was going to happen.

Independence was not something that was on the colonies' minds as they opposed the Stamp Act or took part of the Boston Tea Party. The author also explains how Philadelphia was very much a capital of the the colonies, while others looked to Philadelphia for guidance.

Bostonians thought they were doing Philadelphia a favor as they destroyed the tea, but Philadelphia was actually a bit chagrined. The author writes the book with the promise that this is a story of stories, as she mentions several times that it was the grandchildren and heirs to the legend of Ross that have perpetuated certain stories that could be myths; and as such, there is indeed little proof of anything.

So in order to bulk up the book, the author turned this would-be biography of Ross into something that could have sufficed as a semester of American History as well as upholstery. This is a well-researched history of families in colonial America, but I was disappointed that it did not jump right into Betsy Ross' own life. It meanders around it and mentions Betsy or her many family members at certain intervals, but not enough to keep me entertained or.. I was once a little girl who cherished a toy bank that portrayed Betsy Ross on her yellow rocking chair as she stitched the American Flag, and even though I learned more about the times of Betsy Ross, this book did not satisfy the desire to know more about that whimsically magical person in the rocking chair.

May 14, Mlg rated it really liked it Shelves: Beautifully researched book that attempts to separate the real woman from what may have been a myth. The author provides lots of context for Betsy's life. We follow her through three marriages, seven children, the Revolution, yellow fever epidemics, shunning by the Quakers and the rise and fall of her fortune. Betsy Ross was my great, great, great, great, great aunt and I completely enjoyed getting to know her and other relatives through this book!

Aug 16, Easyreader rated it liked it. Interesting book from the point of view of marketing: The book describes, on the basis of a great deal of historical documentation, the effects of the separation from and battle with Great Britain on one important trade as carried out in one important city. Betsy Ross's Interesting book from the point of view of marketing: Betsy Ross's extended family was heavily involved in the changes and adaptations that took place.

It feels as if there was no historical datum on this subject which the author chose to omit. There is a set of twinkly asides which deserve notice. The author frequently alludes to things in Ross's life which may have happened, must have happened, must have been experienced, and so on, describing Ross's probable response to these situations.

I wonder if, when the author has completed her academic career, she will pick up the pen again and write a fiction piece based on this setting and characters. I think she has a gift for it -- but not now! Mar 12, John rated it really liked it. This is a historians biography This means that though it does serve as a biography of Betsy Ross, Miller has a larger goal. She basically uses what we can piece together about the story of Betsy Ross to tell the story of craftspeople in revolutionary-era Philadelphia, and about late 18th and early 19th century Philly in general.

She hopes that Ross's story will be a window into "the working men and women who built early America's cities, furnis This is a historians biography She hopes that Ross's story will be a window into "the working men and women who built early America's cities, furnished its rooms and clothed its citizens - families who fomented, endured and remembered the upheaval of the Revolution. But you will get a long and complex story of Betsy and her extended family, and her husbands's families, and the other craftspeople in Philly, and how the Revolution affected Philly, and the economics of trade in the era, and quite a bit on Quakers and the religious currents affecting 18th century Philly.

I was interested to learn that there is some truth behind the Betsy Ross story, which I had wrongly assumed to be totally fake, like the Washington cherry tree story. Ross, it turns out, did actually make flags for the Revolutionary government, and her shop turned out flags for years afterwards. She was an upholsterer, and had family connections to members of the Continental Congress, so it makes sense that they might turn to her for some flags. The part of the story where Washington marches up to her house himself and she invents the American flag right there and he is captivated by it and declares it the best flag ever and America!

But the basic outlines of the story have some truth to them. Feb 28, Jessie rated it liked it. I had a love-hate relationship with this book. Actually, love is too strong a word. And hate is too strong as well. The things I liked about it were the same things that annoyed me about it, but I suppose it depended on my mood. One thing I liked was that it gave tremendous detail to the intricate lives of Betsy and her family and friends.

The author successfully created the environment for us and made it possible to visualize a time that we didn't experience first hand. At times I became annoyed I had a love-hate relationship with this book. At times I became annoyed at this because it could get very long--even down to the details of the advertisements in the newspaper for the different shops in town. We would read through one shops advertisement, which included a list of goods, then read another, and another, and another. It sort of went like this, "Items available are, brown velvet, blue velvet, black velvet, red velvet, purple velvet, ocher velvet, green velvet, brown silk, blue silk, purple silk, red silk, green silk, black silk, red damask, gold damask, brocades, canvases, muslin It got a little monotonous, but I was confident that the information in this book was accurate.


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I did come away with an appreciation for Betsy Ross and the experiences she had. Not a must read, but it is interesting if you are interested in understanding the environment during the American revolution. I recommend listening to it on a road trip or something. Feb 19, Carl Williams rated it it was ok Shelves: A bit of a disappointment. There isn't much direct primary source information known about Betsy Ross. So this "biography" bounces between family history, tediously written traditional history of Philadelphia during the Revolution, family stories sometimes critical of them, other times swallowing them whole sale for no clear reason either way , and this kind of chatty, slangy, informal soap opera version of Ross' life that is popular today.

And please stop putting our cultural assumptions on her behavior while we're at it. She minimizes Friends' neutrality during the war and patronizes them in discussions of abolition.

The high light of the book, for me, was reading about Betsy and her many many sisters marrying-out of meeting along with their and the meetings responses. My own bias may be showing here though as my daughter is currently marrying-out herself. The Spy and the Traitor. Run for Your Life. The Bodies in Person.

Tahl Raz and Beth Comstock. In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish Tales for Modern Times. Rising Out of Hatred. How to Invent Everything. Douglas Holgate and Max Brallier. Notes for the Everlost. Kate Inglis and Kate Inglis. Property of the Rebel Librarian. Just Mercy Adapted for Young Adults.