Revolutionary Readings and Radio

In excited anticipation of the upcoming Summer Institute, I’ve been immersed in 1776.  In honor of the upcoming holiday, here are a few cups of tea worth drinking:

I loved Jill Lepore’s Tea and Sympathy:  Who owns the American Revolution? in the May 3 issue of the New Yorker.  It does a terrific job of examining not only the contemporary Tea Party but a grand history of appropriators of Revolutionary myth.  It’s both good history and very funny, as when she catalogs all the rubbish thrown into the Boston Harbor over time, making me realize that  when we travel to Boston for our History on Location session this spring, it’s not just the ghosts of the Sons of Liberty we’ll be visiting.

On a similar note, the folks at BackStory Radio did a great job with Teed Off: The Tea Party Then and Now.  It’s a great examination of links that can (and can’t) be drawn.

I’m not too far into it, but I’m enjoying David Hackett Fischer’s Paul Revere’s Ride.  He writes that his “inquiry studies the coming of the American Revolution as a series of contingent happenings, shaped by the choices of individual actors within the context of large cultural processes” and focuses on Paul Revere (duh) and General Thomas Gage.

In the realm of contingencies, I just finished (and loved) The Astonishing Tale of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Vol 1: The Pox Party.  The author, MT Anderson, writes that he wanted to capture a time of great uncertainty, when the war’s outcome wasn’t pre0rdained. While I suppose it’s written with young people in mind, it’s not a book that either of my kids would enjoy – too Gothic – but I found it well worth reading and have already ordered Volume 2.

I also recently re-read two pieces by Bruce VanSledright about his research into historical thinking with fifth graders (around American Revolution content.)  His study does a nice job of identifying strands in historical thinking;  identifying what those strands look like at a fifth grade developmental level; and articulating the import of the curricular effort.  What does it mean to think historically… and how do you teach it? provides a summary of the findings; Fifth Graders Investigating History In the Classroom provides much greater detail.

Finally, a primary document:  Why wait for Sunday to start shooting off fireworks?  Get to it today!  John Adams wrote that

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

And you?  What have you been reading?

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2 responses to “Revolutionary Readings and Radio

  1. Hey, Matt
    You’ll like vol II quite a bit. I would also recommend the series as books on tape – the main character is wonderfully rendered by a Handsome Actor.
    I have taught to MT Anderson’s earlier work, ‘Feed,’ and he’s one of my favorite young writers.
    See ya in August.

  2. and leading up to the summer institute, people might enjoy Carol Berkin’s Gilder Lehrman lecture on “Myths of the American Revolution”:
    http://www.gilderlehrman.org/historians/podcasts/

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