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Free Stuff

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 Interpretation

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.


  • Limitless idealism.
  • ​A spirit of hope and enterprise.
  • Insatiable appetite for the casting off of restraints (both material and moral) and the releasing of pent-up aspirations.
  • Confidence in self and future.


  • Tremendous difficulty with trust.
  • ​​Dominant ethic of suspicion (assuming the worst conceivable motivations in an adversary)
  • Enormous sensitivity to the dangers of power; legitimate concerns are co-extensive with excessive fears.

​​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.



Arranged by theme.

Titles Hyperlinked to AMAZON.
​For used and / or harder to find books ABEBOOKS is a terrific resource as well.



Pulitzer Prize winning and highly regarded not only as a straightforward biography that illuminates the mythology around Paul Revere but as a vivid portrait of and immersion into the colonial world.  Very readable. 

Recommended for Adults, Pre-Tour Introductory ​


​Esther Forbes

Historical fiction for young children. A ficitonal boy in Boston just so happens to run into The Sons of Liberty and ends up witness to and participant in world changing historical events. A good Disney movie as well (the soundtrack to which is my earliest childhood memory of an interest in the American Revolution).

Recommended for Youths, Pre-Tour Introductory


Specifically covers the backstory of local politics in Massachusetts we covered in the first half of the tour culminating in the Boston Tea Party. Instead of presenting one single character or larger external forces as dominating events, Galvin shows how the interplay of personalities between James Otis, Thomas Hutchinson, and Sam Adams combined and contrasted to lead Massachusetts tumbling down the chaotic path to independence. Out of print and harder to find than average.

Recommended for ​Political Junkies

Philbrick balances terrific research with a captivating style and is a hugely popular writer of all things New England. Here he picks up the dramatic action we covered in the second half of the tour after the Boston Tea Party. Part of a “Trilogy” series that covers all three “pivots” of the war from the Northern Colonies at Bunker Hill to the Middle Colonies at Saratoga to the Southern Colonies at Yorktown. All of it a perfect blend of relatable humanism and riveting heroics.

Recommended for ​Fans of Narrative History



Instead of just a straight chronological retelling of the revolution it is broken up as an alternating series of short biographies, key events, and major battles woven together in a suspense filled and fast paced narrative. Never overwhelming or dull thanks to numerous relatively short and self-contained chapters. Takes the story from the Writs of Assistance to the winning of independence.

Recommended for ​Reliving The Whole Thing

​Jack Rakove

Two things separate this book from most others. First, Jack Rakove is a highly respected scholar and teacher who deftly incorporates work from many of his peers making this perhaps the most rigorous and “up to date” version of the Revolution. Second, he does not stop at independence as merely dramatic or popular works do but carries the investigation into the originality and creativity of the constitutional period. A blend of narrative and analysis that focuses more on the crucial issues than dramatic details.

Recommended for ​Understanding The Whole Thing



​Bernard Bailyn

Simply stated the most important book ever published on the American Revolution. Its Pulitzer Prize in 1967 was a turning point in American scholarship. Previously trapped between a mostly conservative “triumphalist celebration” of the Revolution and a mostly liberal “economic critique” Bailyn recovered the political priorities of their day without projecting onto them preferences from ours. Challenging, illuminating, sympathetic, and yet unsettling. Not a light read. May require a background in English history to fully appreciate. However, in my opinion no book is more important for understanding the American Revolution.

Recommended for ​(Necessary for) Serious Scholarship

​Joseph Ellis

A military and political narrative that brings in perspective and does justice to the arguments of everyone engaged, not only the Patriots and the British but profiles of and perspectives from natives, slaves, and women as well.

Recommended for ​Seeing All Sides

​Kenneth Roberts

Historical fiction for grown-ups. Beginning with the grotesque reality of a “tar-and-feathering” outside of Boston it follows a courageous opposition figure through the twists-and-turns of a country torn apart by civil war. While it is only too true that the winners get to write the history that didn’t stand in the way of Roberts writing a loser’s version.

Recommended for ​Loyalists

​Bernard Knollenberg

Any attempt to reduce a world-historic event like The American Revolution to a “single cause” will be simplistic and choosing a “right side” will be shallow. Knollenberg shows how an array of causes came together and built momentum over time, as subjects loyal to and fighting for the British Empire were progressively alienated. An older book, more strictly economic and political than the “modern” cultural and ideological focuses, perhaps lacking flair, but combined with its sequel Growth of the American Revolution 1766-1775 provides the most thorough compilation of American grievances and British miscues.

Recommended for ​Patriots



​John Ferlin

From Lexington to Yorktown a gripping ride through the major battlefields including all the violence, the struggle, the heroism, the weakness, the near failure and near miracle of America.

Recommended for ​Military Buffs

​John Galvin

Galvin is brilliant and penetrating in braiding together the political backstory of Boston politics but, as a military man himself, is even more at home in the backdrop of the American militiamen who fought at Lexington & Concord. Be prepared. Always be prepared.

Recommended for ​Real Soldiers.



​Gordon Wood

​Walter Isaacson

Franklin lived a big life. Gordon Wood is perhaps the most eminent living historian whose biography is narrower and focused more on what the tour describes, Ben Franklin’s transition from loyal social climbing British subject to an American rebel. Walter Isaacson is a major biographer (Steve Jobs) and deals with politics as only one of the domains to which Franklin made a contribution. Franklin’s own autobiography works on many levels: as an unmediated experience of Franklin’s inimitable style, as a classic piece of Americana, and as a treasure trove of advice for what was perhaps the world’s first “self-help” book.

Recommended for ​Ambitious Types.

Having recovered the psychological world of the major patriots Bailyn pivoted to explore the mind of the most eminent loyalist. Adding a National Book Award to his Pulitzer Prize, Bailyn’s introduction explaining the “three phases” of historical understanding – moving beyond an x vs. y perspective to a richer and more comprehensive vision – has been profoundly influential on my own thinking. Guests of the tour are familiar with the “odious villain” that inspired a degree of hatred from the Patriots unsurpassed by any subsequent politician.

Recommended for Philosophical Types​.

The “lost hero” of the American Revolution. Self-aware and self-critical as we have become about how much history we have idealized and glamorized it’s worthwhile to be reminded somebody so incredible has gone neglected and even forgotten. One obstacle is the lack of primary sources and Di Spigna does great work trying to recover the real man from the many myths and legends.

Recommended for Romantic Types​.


Hours, availability, and crowds vary

Clam Chowder!

Boston Sail Loft

80 Atlantic Ave.

The secret is in the dill. Next to where we finish. Casual and fresh.
​Boston Magazine “Best of” 2018 & 2019.


Lemon Slush!

Polcari's Coffee

105 Salem St.

The North End in a nutshell.  Spices for neighborhood chefs and desserts for neighborhood kids

As much museum as mainstay.

From the same 100-year-old barrel!


Italian - Lunch!


190 North St.

No reservations needed. Amalfi inspired. Family owned and operated.

​Scratch a lottery ticket while you’re there

Mom’s Meatballs!


The Daily Catch

323 Hanover St. (original, expect a line) 65 Atlantic (extension, close to finish)

Rooted in “the docks” of Boston’s seafood trade a fifty year North End establishment sourcing the freshest fish and traditional pan cooked pasta.


Lobster Fra Diavolo!

Pizza! (Sit Down)

​Regina Pizzeria

11 1/2 Thatcher Street.

Go to the original in the North End. Iconic. Likely to have a line.

​.Tripadvisor #1 Pizza in America (2018)


The Giombotta!

Pizza! (Slice)

Ernesto's Pizzeria

69 Salem St.

Lesser known so easier to get in & out

Boston’s Biggest Slice.


Anything FRESH!

Lobster Roll!

James Hook & Co.

440 Atlantic Ave.

Live lobster since 1925. 1 mile waterfront walk from where we finish.

Next door to Independence Wharf:  where they tossed the tea in!


The Chart House

60 Long Wharf.

Dates to 1763. John Hancock’s “Counting House.” Great menu next to our finish..

Beautifull original brick inside and out.


Mac Nut Mango Mahi in Peanut Sauce!

Italian! (Fancy Dinner)

Mama Maria

3 North Square.

Dinner only. Reserve early. On the pricy side. Truly Italian – Italian​.

It doesn’t get much better than this


Osso Buco!

Italian! (Family Throwback)

Tony & Elaine's

111 North Washington St.

Red & White tablecloths. 1970’s appetite and atmosphere. Truly Italian – American.
​ Named for the owner’s parents who were servers in the old school North End


Spaghetti & Meatballs!

Famous Value!


355 Hanover St.

Famous low prices mean famous long lines. Excellent traditional Italian & Seafood.

​ Recent expansion should mean faster lines


Zuppa Di Pesce!

Famous Reputation!

Neptune Oyster

63 Salem St.

Famous raw bar and lobster roll. Arguably Boston’s most popular restaurant.
​ (OR “USS Lobsitution” it next door at Pauli’s)



Boutique Experience !

Table Boston

445 Hanover St.

Boston’s Best New Restaurant 2021
Reserve Ahead. Prix Fix. Group Dining.
​ Leonardo DiCaprio had New Year’s here


No choice, eat the full course!

Gourmet Sandwich!

Table Mercado

445 Hanover St.

Pick up a focaccia sandwich and swing by Boston Bottle en route to a waterfront picnic.

You might see me out there


The Table!

Historic Tavern!

Bell In Hand

45 Union St.

America’s oldest continually operating tavern in Boston’s oldest operating street.

More of a party scene at night


Mike was a bouncer here!

Irish Pub!

Mr. Dooley's

77 Broad St.

Friendly and authentic. Great local and live music scene almost every night.​

​ Come back in the morning for Irish Breakfast


Best Guiness in Boston!

Budget Beer!


171 Milk St.

Popular spot for wings, burgers, sports, and draft specials.


$1 Bud Light!

Boston Cream Pie!

Omni Parker House

60 School St.

Old World elegance from Charles Dickens to John F. Kennedy
​Legendary Whiskey Bar


Dessert to go at coffee house gift shop!

Boston Baked Beans!

Beantown Pub

101 Tremont St.

Quintessential Boston Bar with pool, sports, and good bar food.


“The only place where you can have a cold Sam Adams looking at a cold Sam Adams!”