Acquisitions (American Revolution Edition)

Every year as I prepare my classes I rediscover my love for the history of the American Revolution.  Like the Civil War, the Revolution enjoys a wide range of talented scholars and popular writers, who continue to crank out thought-provoking studies many of which I end up incorporating into my class lectures.  This year was no different.  Here is a list of the books that I’ve read over the past few months or hope to complete at some point soon.  I know many of you have an interest in the period so I am curious as to what you’ve read recently or are looking forward to reading.

  • Benjamin L. Carp, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (Yale University Press, 2010).  I am just about finished with this book and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  Carp does an outstanding job of placing the event within the context of the British Empire as a whole.  He analyzes the local social and political scene in Boston as well as the choice of disguise and the consequences of the act.
  • Julie Flavell, When London Was Capital of America (Yale University Press, 2010).  I love books that force you to take a new perspective on familiar people and events.  I recently heard that David McCullough’s next book will attempt something along the same lines.
  • Woody Holton, Abigail Adams (Free Press, 2009).  Holton goes furthest in exploring Abigail’s role as the caretaker of the family’s finances during John’s many absences.  I know that Joseph Ellis recently published a book on John and Abigail, but the reviews have not been good.
  • Jill Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (Princeton University Press, 2010).  You can read this in one or two days.  It compliments Carp’s study nicely.  As much as I found Lepore’s focus on the modern Tea Party movement to be interesting, I was much more surprised by earlier appropriations of the event.
  • Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon and Schuster, 2010).  I’ve not had a chance to read this, but if it is as good as her study of the Declaration of Independence it’s going to be a real treat to read.
  • Alan Taylor, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (Knopf, 2010) Taylor proves once again that there is an aesthetic quality to solid research that is beautifully written.

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6 comments… add one
  • Larry Hartzell Nov 27, 2010 @ 11:07

    Don’t remember if you’ve touched on this in an earlier, but I’ve just finished Timothy Breen’s _American Insurgents, American Patriots_. And it’s wonderful — a terrific antidote to the whole “Founding Fathers” approach to the Revolution. I think your students would love it.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 27, 2010 @ 12:09

      Hi Larry,

      I heard some good things about Breen’s book. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  • Josh M. Nov 26, 2010 @ 13:37

    I highly recommend Terry Bouton’s Taming Democracy and Andrew Shankman’s Crucible of American Democracy. Both historians use the events that transpired in Pennsylvania during the 1780s and 1790s to examine the democratic tendencies among common people and the ways in which the Founding Fathers attempted to squash this rise of democracy. I am, however, biased toward Shankman’s book which I think is slightly better than Bouton’s. I had the chance to study the Early Republic under Shankman as a graduate student and I can truthfully say that he is one of the best historians nobody’s heard of.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 26, 2010 @ 13:47

      Thanks Josh. I’ve not heard of them.

  • James Bartek Nov 26, 2010 @ 10:31

    I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while now: Matthew Spring, “With Zeal and with Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783” (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2008).

    • Kevin Levin Nov 26, 2010 @ 13:47

      Thanks James.

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