Read the Revolution

curated collection of excerpts from exciting, thought-provoking books about the American Revolution

Book cover of "Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America 1760-1820" by Susan E Klepp
March 8, 2017

Revolutionary Conceptions

"Procreation is Power" asserts historian Susan Klepp in her study of the long-term decline of birthrates in the United States titled, Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820. Looking at the attitudes and practices surrounding fertility and procreation recorded in diaries, novels, letters, newspapers, and women's portraits, Klepp demonstrates the ways in which the political and social upheaval of the American Revolution ushered in new conceptions of procreation, childrearing, and womanhood.

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Book cover of "A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution" By John Conrad Döhla.
February 22, 2017

A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution

In 1777, Johann Conrad Döhla journeyed from Anspach-Bayreuth (a principality in present-day Germany) to North America to fight alongside the British Army during the American War for Independence. The young soldier was one of the about 20,000 German-speaking troops, collectively referred to as "Hessians," hired by King George III to help defeat the American Revolutionaries. Döhla fought from New York to Virginia and kept a diary of his experiences along the way. He recorded the daily activities of a soldier's life, anecdotes of his fellow soldiers, and many other unique observations about the foreign people and places he encountered.

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Book cover of "The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution" by John Oller.
February 8, 2017

The "Swamp Fox"

Known for his cunning and resourcefulness, Francis Marion earned the moniker the "Swamp Fox" for his exploits during the Revolutionary War, which also inspired many colorful interpretations of his life and military career. From the first biography of Marion in 1809 to the short-lived Disney series of the late 1950s and the more recent 2000 Hollywood film, The Patriot, the legends surrounding Marion are generally more fiction than fact. In a new biography, titled The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution, journalist John Oller seeks to unpack and debunk some of the myths and folklore that have obscured the life of Marion.

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Book cover of "Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution" by Nathan Perl-Rosenthal.
January 25, 2017

Citizen Sailors

Born in Connecticut to a seafaring family, Nathaniel Fanning served in the Continental Navy and was commander of an American privateer ship in the later years of the Revolutionary War. As a privateer, Fanning disguised his ship as a Royal Navy cutter to deceive enemy vessels. Not fooled by the disguise, British officers captured Fanning and his crew in 1782 and interrogated them about their origins. Fanning's crewmen were determined to be Irish and were executed, while Fanning was believed to be American and was imprisoned.

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Book cover for "Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution" by Terry Golway
January 11, 2017

Washington's General

With no formal military training, Nathanael Greene was an "unlikely warrior" according to Terry Golway in Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution. Yet the young Quaker from Rhode Island rose quickly in the ranks of the Continental Army to become one of Washington's trusted generals. He saw action during the early campaigns of 1776 and 1777 and served as Quartermaster General from 1778-1780. In 1780 Greene was appointed by Washington as commander of the Southern Army, replacing Horatio Gates after his defeat at Camden. Adopting unconventional tactics, Greene engaged General Cornwallis and the British Army in battles across the Carolinas. Although defeated at Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs, this series of Pyrrhic victories for the British Army set the stage for their surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

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Book cover of "The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War" by Wayne Bodle
December 21, 2016

The Valley Forge Winter

On December 19, 1777, Washington and his war weary troops marched into Valley Forge. The next six months proved to be turning point for the Continental Army. Wayne Bodle's The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War presents the story of the winter of 1777-1778 with details that may be new to most readers. Bodle moves beyond the myths and legends that besiege and blur the historical significance of the cantonment. Instead, he uses Valley Forge to explain the complex relationship between the American Army, Continental Congress, state governments, and civilian population during the Revolutionary War.

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Book cover of "George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps" by Barnet Schecter
December 7, 2016

George Washington's America

Throughout his life George Washington amassed an impressive personal collection of over ninety maps and atlases. Upon his death, a selection of those maps was bound together into an atlas (now owned by Yale University) and used as the foundation for George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps by Barnet Schecter. Twenty-six of his maps, depicting locations from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia to the western coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, have been reproduced in rich detail and full color. The maps highlight the prominent role of geography in shaping Washington's personal, military, and political outlook. In crafting this unique biography, Schecter interweaves Washington's maps with his correspondence and other writings to produce a narrative portrait that interprets his life as a surveyor, military commander, president, and finally private citizen and land speculator.

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Book cover of "A Revolution in Eating: How The Quest for Food Shaped America" by James E. McWilliams
November 23, 2016

A Revolution in Eating

In A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, James E. McWilliams takes the reader on a culinary tour of Colonial America - from the British West Indies to the regional cuisines of the Thirteen Colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. The meat of the book focuses on the many ways British colonists, Native Americans, and African slaves influenced and adapted to new ingredients, landscapes, cooking methods, and attitudes about food. We also learn about the evolution of regional American foodways from the self-sufficient farms of New England to the establishment of rice as the staple cash crop in the Carolinas.

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Book cover of "Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette" by Selene Castrovilla
November 9, 2016

Revolutionary Friends

Based on real events from the Revolutionary War, this children's book tells the story of the enduring friendship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. The story begins with their first meeting in the summer of 1777, and follows Washington and Lafayette as they encounter a parade in Philadelphia, review the troops together, and fight at the Battle of Brandywine-where Lafayette was wounded. Filled with full-page, color illustrations and excerpts from Lafayette's writings, this book is suitable for grades 3 and up!

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Book cover of "The King's Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776" by Brendan McConville
October 26, 2016

The King's Three Faces

This week's featured book explores the relationship between colonists and their king in colonial British America beginning with the Glorious Revolution in 1688. By looking at colonists' daily lives, annual celebrations, and writings, Brendan McConville argues that there was a strong emotional attachment to Great Britain's monarchs during this period that has been overlooked by earlier historians. By focusing on this relationship between king and subject, the book traces the colonists' growing disenchantment with King George during the 1760s and 1770s-culminating with the events of 1776.

In the following excerpt from The King's Three Face: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776, we learn about the physical and symbolic destruction of objects associated with the Monarchy. These actions signaled the tragic and radical rupture with the King and royal America.

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