An Awesome Podcast
My first recommendation is not actually a book but a podcast. We are in a golden age of streaming and Mike Duncan's REVOLUTIONS podcast is awesome. Exactly what I've done for the Boston story he has done for the whole of the American Revolution as well as the English Civil War, French, Haitian, South American, and Russian Revolutions. It is his second podcast series after the smashing success of his monumental HISTORY OF ROME which is just as good. He reads all the books, puts them together in ~ 30 minute episodes colored with personality, insight, and balance. Well researched, interesting, and easy to listen to in an airport, on a commute, while you're doing chores, while your boss thinks you're working, etc. Available free through any smartphone or streaming service.
A Brilliant Man
An inspiration for this tour was the realization that our university system privileges original research and narrow specialization over the synthesizing and sharing of insights from the tremendous scholarship that has already been produced. This leaves us in the absurd position of having some of the most fascinating perspectives and illuminating discoveries about America having had virtually zero exposure to or impact on the popular imagination. The core of this tour is built around the work of the late Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn. Attached is a condensed essay he wrote in anticipation of the American bicentennial summarizing the essential themes of the American Revolution. It is an excellent introduction to the academic work behind the tour and an elegant insight into the ideas that still define America today.
An Ivy League Education
You can actually "sit in" on Yale's American Revolutions course. Joanne Freeman is a great teacher and each lecture is enjoyable
Don't spend $150,000 on an education you could get for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.
The sights of Boston are not so impressive as the ideas associated with them. Whereas Boston cannot compete with the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal when it comes to imposing photography the city has no competition when it comes to influential psychology. The ramifications of the story are so inescapable we generally misunderstand them as inevitable. In the same way a "selfie" cannot capture the beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyon, a "snapshot" cannot do justice to the depth and breadth the research behind and the reach of the American Revolution. My hope as a guide is to point in the direction of the most penetrating and prestigious insights, encourage people to see the possibilities, and then leave them to their own explorations.
Observation made by some leading scholars about the revolutionary legacy of America.
The single most important event in American History. Bar none. Not only did it legally create the United States but it infused into our culture our noblest ideals, our highest aspirations: legality, equality, constitutionalism, the well being of ordinary people; it's the Revolution that gave us our obsessive concern with our own morality, and most important our messianic sense of purpose in the world. The Revolution made us an ideological people.
- Gordon Wood, The Idea of America