As an undergraduate student, I took a couple classes on the period of the American Revolution. During my master’s classes, I chose to focus more in-depth on this period and found books I very much enjoyed and learned from. Here are five books I recommend on the period of the American Revolution for the reader looking to learn more beyond a general synthesis of the period:
- The Marketplace of Revolution by T. H. Breen – I reviewed this book here and only gave it 3 ½ stars. However, I must say this book has stuck with me. Breen focused on consumerism in the period leading up to the American Revolution and how this contributed to the revolution conceptions and outbreak. He argued there were two separate revolutions during this time, one commercial and one political. Overall an interesting side to the causes of war I recommend for the reader looking to learn more on the period.
- In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes by David Waldstreicher – I found this book to be very interesting, entertaining, and another read that stuck with me over the years. Waldstreicher focused on the development of American nationalism as seen through toasts, parades, and other celebrations and events. This book started in 1776 revolutionary America and continued through the post-revolutionary period. Overall, a captivating read with an easy to remember and reference back to argument and supported research.
- Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis – I like this book. I have read it a couple of different times and have pulled away something new each time on the revolutionary generation. Ellis focused on little-known events that affected the American Revolutionary period, from secret dinners where the location of the American capital was discussed to dueling founders: Hamilton and Burr. This book was a fairly quick read and exhibited a little known side of the founding fathers’ generation.
- Sex about the Rabble by Clare A. Lyons – This book offered a detailed look at sexuality in Philadelphia across class, gender and race from pre-revolutionary to post-revolutionary America. Power and gender roles went through transformations during this time as the period progressed and the perception of strict virtue of the upper and middle classes developed. Lyons offered a different and important look at the revolutionary period through gender perceptions and changes.
- Defiance of the Patriots by Benjamin L. Carp – While I only gave this book three stars on Goodreads initially, I recommend this book as a great pairing with Breen’s The Marketplace of Revolution. Carp explored the marketplaces’ contributions to the outbreak of revolution further, with a focus on the Boston Tea Party. For those of you who have watched the new History channel series, “Sons of Liberty,” this books adds further details to the events that took place in Massachusetts. Carp focused on Boston as one of the first to react to the Acts in the colonies passed by Parliament and how this led to the American Revolution.
There you have it… a mix of books on the causes and transformations that took place in society during the period of the American Revolution. These are a just a small handful of books I recommend on the period. Do you have favorite books or authors on revolutionary America? Share them here!