• Help me learn new things in 2018 – The Revolutionary War! (What should I read?)

    I’m going to spend April learning about the history of The Revolutionary War. You’ve already given me some great ideas. I want to post them here, so you can help me prioritize what to read. If you think I’m missing something, please tell me. I’m opening comments, or you can tweet me.

    1. Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It by John Ferling
    2. John Adams by David McCullough
    3. 1776 by David McCullough
    4. American Revolutions: a Continental History by Alan Taylor
    5. American Colonies: The Settling of North America by Alan Taylor
    6. Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick

    What do you all think? Any thoughts on the order?


    • Forthcoming Series on Race and Revolutions at “Age of Revolutions”
      FEBRUARY 27, 2018 / JOHNFEA
      Professor Fea’s website, “ thewwayofimprovement.com” discusses current publications, much on social, economic, political and economic backgrounds.
      Your choices are fun reading but glorify heroic individuals.

      I suggest Nathaniel Philbrick’s. “Valiant traitor” on Benedict Arnold which displays the many aspects of the period.

    • Ron Chernow, Gordon Wood, Ray Raphael, Michael Klarman, David Holmes, Jack Rakove.

    • The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
      Gordon Wood

    • Great topic, Aaron. I’ll throw in the mix Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis. It may be a bit of your month’s scope, covering 1790-1800 and the design of the country, but it’s also the legacy of the Revolution and different interpretations of how and why it happened. A beautiful book. I snarfed it.


    • Philip Foner, Blacks in the American Revolution

    • I’ve read John Adams and seen the mini-series and both are great. We have 1776 at home and I asked my wife, who’s a big McCullough fan and reads more history than I do if it was any good, and her answer was a hesitant, “No, not really.”

      So take that for what it’s worth. But John Adams is fantastic.

      • Good comment. The problem with all,history is the opinion of writer, which may be based on the time when written or the knowledge the author has of the many conflicting aspects of a period.
        The great men bio histories are fun and rewarding. Most of the founders are now larger than life and their foibles forgotten.

        I do so enjoy early American history and my shelf of books long and some written long ago are still good. The social, economic, intellectual, issues are oft not discussed.

        Fun seeing which things are encouraged. I too loved the Adams book.

    • You may want to give Bernard Bailyn’s “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” a shot. I found did NOT find it an especially easy read but enlightening. “In pamphlets, letters, newspapers, and sermons [colonists[ returned…to the problem of the uses and misuses of power—the great benefits of power when gained and used by popular consent and the political and social devastation when acquired by those who seize it by force or other means and use it for their personal benefit.” Dig the last bit.

      You also might want to read Richard Beeman’s “Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.” You realize what a brilliant but incredibly flawed document the US Constitution really is, and how difficult it was to produce. Hell, at the time nobody wanted to sign the damn thing! (Or just read Franklin’s final speech to the convention, which pretty much sums things up.)

    • I second the recommendation for The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) by Gordon Wood.

    • Definitely the Revolutionary War years parts of Chernow’s Hamilton.

    • Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution.

    • “Historian Carl Becker in History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760–1776 (1909) formulated the Progressive interpretation of the American Revolution. He said there were two revolutions: one against Britain to obtain home rule, and the other to determine who should rule at home. Beard expanded upon Becker’s thesis, in terms of class conflict, in An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913) and An Economic Interpretation of Jeffersonian Democracy (1915) [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_A._Beard#Progressive_historiography%5D. “

    • Revolutionary War years parts of Burstein and Isenberg’s Madison and Jefferson.

    • To see from a slightly different direction, try The First Salute by Barbara Tuchman. The section of her book The March of Folly on the British losing the colonies is also an enjoyable read.

    • For some scholarly scaffolding (from an American historian friend):

      “I’d start with this book: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199746705.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199746705. It has some rock star scholars and is a good introduction to all of the contemporary historiographical debates in the field.

      Also probably this one: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/B/bo12986170.html

    • +1 1776! Gripping, reads almost like a novel.