Read the Revolution

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

Book cover of "Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom" by Russell Shorto
March 28, 2018

Revolution Song

Russell Shorto’s Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom weaves together the life stories of six historical figures against the backdrop of the American Revolution. Through their own words, recorded in diaries, letters, and autobiographies, an intimate portrait of each of these characters emerges as the author takes the reader on a journey across borders and decades. Along the way, their stories sometimes intertwine, but the author’s goal is to examine what freedom, or more specifically individual freedom, means to six very different people.

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Book cover of "The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848" by Jonathan Israel.
March 14, 2018

The Expanding Blaze

The American Revolution was the first of a series of world-shaking democratic revolutions that swept the Atlantic World in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Radical ideas of self-government, liberty, and republicanism challenged the Old World institutions of monarchy, aristocracy, and religious authority, transforming the modern world. In a sweeping work of intellectual history, Jonathan Israel investigates this global spread of enlightenment ideas in The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848.

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Book cover of "Revolutionary," by Alex Myers.
February 28, 2018


Deborah Sampson joined the Continental Army in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment at the age of 21 disguised as a man. Enlisted as Robert Shurtliff, Sampson participated in numerous skirmishes from 1782-1783 in New York's Lower Hudson River Valley. After an illness, her secret was discovered and Sampson received an honorable discharge at West Point in 1763. Later in life, she received a pension for her military service and went on a national tour giving speeches about her wartime experiences and demonstrations of the manual of arms.

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Book cover of "Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution" by Nicole Eustace.
February 14, 2018

Passion is the Gale

In the eighteenth century, love letters were not always meant for your lover's eyes only. Rather public expressions of love and affection were common during a courtship. We learn in this week's featured excerpt, that as courting men and women navigated a romantic relationship, they were also in a delicate negotiation of power.

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Book cover for "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination" by Annette Gordon-Reed
January 24, 2018

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs

In a 1793 letter to Angelica Schuyler Church in 1793, Thomas Jefferson described himself as "the most blessed of the patriarchs," a revealing sentiment that provides a window into the mindset of one of America's most famous founding fathers.

As a republican patriot and plantation patriarch, the contradictions of Thomas Jefferson's private and public worlds continue to fascinate and confound. Two of the leading scholars of Thomas Jefferson, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, collaborated to produce an insightful study of how Jefferson understood himself and his life's work as a revolutionary, politician, president, and slaveholder. 'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs': Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, offers readers an intimate and provocative exploration of Thomas Jefferson's progression through life.

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Book cover for "I Survived: The American Revolution, 1776"
January 10, 2018

I Survived the American Revolution

When eleven-year-old Nathaniel Fox runs away from his cruel uncle, he finds himself alone in New York City in the middle of the Revolutionary War! Young Nate soon meets an old friend and joins up with a Connecticut regiment as a camp helper. As he settles into camp life, chopping wood, digging trenches, and hauling water for the Continental Army, Nate learns more about the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and, of course, hears stories about the feared Hessian soldiers and their deadly bayonets. Yet, Nate's courage will soon be tested as he and the Continental Army prepare for the Battle of Brooklyn.

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Book cover of "The Common Cause: Creating Race and nation in the American Revolution" by Robert G. Parkinson.
December 27, 2017

The Common Cause

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the differences between the thirteen American colonies seemed insurmountable and the likelihood of them uniting together to defeat a global superpower appeared to be impossible. The leaders of the Revolutionary movement recognized that they would need a ‘common cause’ to unify the people politically. In The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution, Robert G. Parkinson explores the creation and propagation of a ‘common cause,’ crafted by Patriot leaders, to rally colonists from South Carolina to Massachusetts against a common enemy.

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Book cover of "Don Troiani's Soldier's of the American Revolution", Art by Don Troiani and Text by James L. Kochan.
December 13, 2017

Don Troiani’s Soldiers of the American Revolution

From the insignia on a soldier’s coat buttons to the shape of their cap, Don Troiani’s Soldiers of the American Revolution brings to the life the soldiers and battles of the Revolutionary War. Surviving objects and primary source descriptions of the uniforms, weapons, and accessories of the Revolutionary War serve as Troiani’s source material for his full-color illustrations of British, American, Oneida, and Hessian soldiers presented in various poses and scenes. A historical artist specializing in military paintings of the American Revolution and the Civil War, Troiana shows his work by featuring his original paintings of soldiers alongside the actual objects he studied in his artistic recreations.

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Book cover for "American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of our Best-Loved Cakes" by Anne Byrn.
November 22, 2017

Double Feature: Gingerbread

Take a break from Thanksgiving preparations to learn about a classic American dessert- Gingerbread! We’ve whipped up a delicious double feature for this week’s Read the Revolution email with tempting and intriguing stories about our early American culinary history.

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Book cover of "Revolution Against Empire: Taxes, Politics, and the Origins of American Independence" by Justin Du Rivage.
November 8, 2017

Revolution Against Empire

In Revolution Against Empire: Taxes, Politics, and the Origins of American Independence, Justin du Rivage argues that the American Revolution was about more than the simple “no taxation without representation” slogan. Essentially, he argues that the violent break between Great Britain and its colonies was the product of a fierce ideological debate taking place throughout the eighteenth century over the question of “what kind of empire the British Empire would become.” In the decades leading up to the Declaration of Independence, this ideological debate regarding issues of taxation, public debt, and inequality raged on both sides of the Atlantic. The author seeks to reposition American Independence as part of this larger political debate over the fate of the British Empire by focusing on three rival political factions and their competing and incompatible visions of empire that dominated the political environments of Great Britain and its colonies from Boston to Bengal.

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