Submitted by Tom Gilson, Associate Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendall. New York: Putnam, 2011. 355p 978-0399156991
Given Noah Webster’s standing as a “path-breaking lexicographer” and creator of perhaps America’s first great reference work, Joshua Kendall’s fascinating new biography deserves a wide readership. As you might expect, Webster is portrayed as playing an essential role in the development of the American language. Not only did he compile the landmark American Dictionary of the English Language, he also published a “legendary spelling book, which would teach five generations of Americans how to read.” However, Joshua Kendall gives us much more than that. His Webster is an obsessive-compulsive who “housed a host of contradictory identities: revolutionary, reactionary, fighter, peacemaker, intellectual, commonsense philosopher, ladies’ man, prig, slick networker and loner.”
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.