Revolutionary reading: Book recommendations for Independence Day
By PHILLIP ERICKSEN firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Monday, July 4, 2016 12:01 am
Baylor University history professor Thomas Kidd said “Paul Revere’s Ride” places Revere in “his proper colonial context.”
For anyone who would rather curl up with a book than watch fireworks on Independence Day, Baylor University history professor Thomas Kidd is here to help.
Kidd, also the associate director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, recommended five books that embody the spirit of the holiday in a recent blog post on The Gospel Coalition.
“There are the usual suspects, like David McCullough’s ‘John Adams’ or Ron Chernow’s ‘Alexander Hamilton’ . . . but I thought I (would) offer up a few you may or may not know,” Kidd wrote. “They are excellent reads and will introduce you to some lesser-known, fascinating characters of the revolutionary period.”
Kidd said Americans should remember what inspired United States independence and not just turn the Fourth of July into an occasion, as fun as that may be.
There are aspects of the country’s founding many overlook.
“The most obvious is the clash between the ideal of American liberty and the reality that many Americans at the time of the founding, especially slaves, were not free,” Kidd wrote in an email to the Tribune-Herald. “But the principles of the founding made that clash more conspicuous than ever before, setting the stage for the anti-slavery movement, the Civil War and emancipation.”
Kidd’s recommendations, including a few winners of the Pulitzer Prize, concern historical people and events that may not be taught in grade school, going beyond George Washington or the Boston Tea Party.
“Americans tend to focus very closely on the biographies of the five or six leading Founding Fathers, which is great, but incomplete,” Kidd wrote. “Thousands of regular men and women also made the American Revolution what it was, and we should remember those patriots and their ideas as well.”
Bernard Bailyn’s “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” is one of three Pulitzer Prize winners on Baylor University history professor Thomas Kidd’s recommended reading list. Thomas Kidd’s book recommendations “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer: “Fischer’s evocative story places Revere in his proper colonial context. After reading this, you’ll understand why it was impossible that Revere would have ever said, ‘The British are coming!’ ”
“The Minutemen and Their World” by Robert Gross: “Gross introduces us to the lost world of Concord, Massachusetts, and how it came to produce the celebrated minutemen. Gross also gives excellent coverage of the effects of the Great Awakening in Concord, 30 years before the revolution.”
“The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790” by Rhys Isaac: “This Pulitzer Prize-winning book, originally published in 1982, gives a riveting account of the Great Awakening in Virginia, the Baptist ‘revolt’ and the way that religion and revolution transformed Virginia’s hierarchical society.”
“A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: “Ulrich also won the Pulitzer Prize for her remarkable re-creation of Ballard’s compelling life. This is perhaps the best American social history biography ever written.”
“The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” by Bernard Bailyn: “Yet another Pulitzer winner, this is probably the least likely ‘beach read’ book on the list. But it is utterly compelling, almost 50 years after its original publication. If I had to pick one book on the American Revolution that made the biggest impression on me, it would be this one.”