Read the Revolution Speaker Series

Read the Revolution Speaker Series

Bringing celebrated authors and historians to the Museum of the American Revolution for lively, facilitated discussions of their work, these evening programs in the Read the Revolution Speaker Series explore compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality and self-government.

Each Read the Revolution Speaker Series program includes a special talk, audience Q&A, and opportunities to purchase a book signed by the author. Read ahead and order featured titles in advance online from the Museum Shop. Revolution Society Members receive complimentary access to the Read the Revolution Speaker Series and an invitation to exclusive receptions with the author. For information about joining the Revolution Society, please visit the Support page for details.

The Read the Revolution Speaker Series is inspired by the Read the Revolution digital edition: a free, bi-weekly email which features excerpts from thought-provoking books about the American Revolution curated by Museum staff since 2013. Sign up to receive Read the Revolution emails and read more all year.

Read the Revolution is sponsored by:

 

 

2019-2020 Speaker Series Schedule

Maya Jasanoff
Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, 2011)
September 2019

Maya Jasanoff  revisited the story of how loyalists dispersed across the British empire, resulting in an enduring American influence on the wider British world. This evening program included a book signing with the author.

Maya Jasanoff is the Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University.

Lonnie G. Bunch III
A Fool's Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump (Smithsonian Books, September 2019)
October 2019

Lonnie G. Bunch III discussed the dynamic process it took to open the National Museum of African American History and Culture in September 2016, in lively conversation with Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President & CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution. This evening program included an opportunity to purchase a book signed by the author.

Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Founding Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

T.H. Breen 
The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America (Belknap Press, September 2019)
November 2019

T. H. Breen showed how ordinary Americans, far from the halls of power and the fields of battle, turned a faltering rebellion into an enduring Revolution to create a country based on the will of the people. This evening program included a book signing with the author.

T. H. Breen is the James Marsh Professor at-large, University of Vermont and Founding Director of the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at Northwestern University.

The program is available to watch again.

Stephen Brumwell  
Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty (Yale University Press, May 2018)
January 2020

Stephen Brumwell traced Benedict Arnold’s journey from a once-ardent hero of the Revolutionary cause to its most dishonored traitor. 

Stephen Brumwell is a writer and independent historian based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The program is available to watch again.

Vincent Brown  
Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap Press, January 2020)
February 2020

Vincent Brown offered a gripping account of how the largest slave revolt in the Atlantic world connected Europe, Africa, and America, and speaks to our understanding of wars on terror today. 

Vincent Brown is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and American Studies at Harvard University.

The program is available to watch again.

Caitlin Fitz
Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (W.W. Norton, Liveright 2016)
June 2020

In conversation with Museum President and CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, Caitlin Fitz drew on sources and archives in four languages to address how citizens of the new United States compared their Revolution and republicanism with Latin America’s independence movements. 

Caitlin Fitz is an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University.

This virtual program is available to watch again.

Past: 2018-19 Read the Revolution Speaker Series Season

Colin Calloway

The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation

In November 2018, Colin Calloway discussed his book, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation, which spans decades of Native American leaders' interactions with George Washington and brings new focus to Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Bloody Fellow, Joseph Brant, Red Jacket, Little Turtle and the native nations they represented. Using the prism of Washington’s life, Calloway returned these individual stories to the forefront of the United States’ founding.

Calloway is the John Kimball, Jr. 1943 Professor of History and Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College.

Mary Sarah Bilder

Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

In January 2019, Mary Sarah Bilder discussed her book, Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention, which challenges our traditional view of how American statesman James Madison shaped the United States Constitution. Bilder explored how Madison, in revising his notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia for later publication, changed allegiances and depictions of people like Alexander Hamilton in the years after American independence.

Bilder is the Founders Professor of Law at Boston College Law School.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth

In March 2019, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich discussed her pioneering book, The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, which used textiles and textile tools to trace the history of New England in this work, first published in 2001. Ulrich revisited the Revolutionary era with an emphasis on the power of ordinary objects to enlarge our understanding of the past.

Ulrich is the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University.

Virginia DeJohn Anderson

The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution

In May 2019, Virginia DeJohn Anderson discussed her joint biography, The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale, Moses Dunbar, and the American Revolution, which reveals how Nathan Hale, a spy for the American cause, and Moses Dunbar, a Loyalist, chose sides in perilous times. Through the experiences of two Connecticut men, Anderson illuminated the impact of the Revolution on ordinary lives and how individual stories were remembered and forgotten after independence.

Anderson is a Professor of History at University of Colorado, Boulder.

Past: 2017-18 Read the Revolution Speaker Series Season (Inaugural)

Alan Taylor

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

In July 2017, Alan Taylor discussed his book, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1840, which expands the story of our nation’s revolutionary birth in his latest work, challenging many common beliefs about the Founding era. Taylor is the author of many acclaimed books in early American history and has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History.

Taylor is a Professor of History and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair at the University of Virginia.

Jane Kamensky

A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley

In October 2017, award-winning historian Jane Kamensky discussed her book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, which gives a rich and vibrant account of the American Revolution as seen by Boston-born artist John Singleton Copley, whose works profoundly shaped the artistic legacy of this dramatic era.

Kamensky is a Professor of History and the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University.

Nathaniel Philbrick

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution

In January 2018, New York Times best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick discussed his book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution, which explores the American experience through his bestselling books. In his most recent work, Philbrick provides a stirring account of the deep and tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold.

Annette Gordon-Reed & Peter S. Onuf

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination

In March 2018, two of Thomas Jefferson's most distinguished historians, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, teamed up to discuss their book, Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination, which produces a nuanced portrait of the mind and character of our nation’s third president.

Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, and Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor Emeritus at University of Virginia.

Read the Revolution is sponsored by: