As most Americans are quarantining inside (and may be running out of Netflix options), we thought we'd revisit our list of recommended books about the American Revolution. Stay well!
1. The Birth of the Republic by Edmund S. Morgan
Best for: a fantastic summary of the who, what, where, when, why
Morgan writes the definitive political and economic history of the American Revolution, which expertly lays out the cast of characters and their motives. Finding humor in things as mundane as taxation, this is an entertaining and scholarly introduction to the founding of our country.
2. Boston in the American Revolution: A Town Versus an Empire by Brooke Barbier
Best for: Boston-centric history
Read the riveting story about how a small town in Massachusetts ignited a period of rebellion in the American colonies. Each chapter highlights a key player and shows what historical sights look like in present-day Boston. If you’re in the city, combine your reading with a Freedom Trail tour!
3. American Revolutions by Alan Taylor
Best for: alternative perspectives
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor dismisses more narrow histories of the Revolution in favor of painting a broader picture that focuses on all of America, not just the thirteen North American colonies. This book is a follow-up to the fantastic, American Colonies, which also includes the history of the French and Spanish colonies throughout North America.
4. 1776 by David McCullough
Best for: military history
One of the most comprehensive popular histories of the American Revolution, 1776 guides you through the intricacies and emotions of war. It’s largely written through the lens of George Washington and British commander William Howe, making it ideal for those looking to learn more about the trials and tribulation of war.
5. An Empire on the Edge by Nick Bunker
Best for: the British perspective
Bunker offers a version of revolutionary events as seen from the other side of the Atlantic, using many British sources that American historians infrequently access. He attributes much of the buildup to Britain’s oversights, misunderstandings, and errors, which offer a fresh perspective to histories that tend to focus on political and military machinations.
6. The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
Best for: academic vigor
One of the preeminent historians of American Revolutionary history, Wood writes an epic political, cultural, and economic history of the roots of the American Revolution. Wood argues that the Revolution was radical because of all that it accomplished and that later societal changes (like equality for women and minorities) were only possible because of the Revolution. The book is thoroughly evidenced to appease academic audiences, but still entirely readable for a casual reader.
7. Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Best for: under-represented voices
If you’re looking to hear from the disenfranchised, check out this “untold story” of Ona Judge, an African American woman in pursuit of her lawful freedom from America’s First Family. Coming to terms with the darker side of early American history and its legacies, this book offers a moment of reflection and nuance central to our understanding of the time period.
8. Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Best for: getting to know Revere and lesser-known Revolutionary actors.
This book explores the life of Paul Revere and his legendary midnight ride on April 18, 1775 – on what would become the eve of Revolution. Fischer also focuses on British General Thomas Gage and expertly mixes the colonial and British perspectives to offer detailed accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
For those who love holiday cheer and a good beer, you can’t miss these wintery selections! Make way for spices and stouts to get you through the holiday season and snowy evenings.
1. UFO Winter Blonde
Made with vanilla cold brew, this light and refreshing wheat beer from Harpoon’s unfiltered offerings series tastes like a Christmas cookie in a glass. It's simply divine. And if you can resist not drinking it all, use it to make this curried beer and butternut squash soup for a heavenly pairing! Tasting notes: vanilla and wheat.
2. Riverwalk Storm Door Porter
Dark beer lovers rejoice! Winter brings a lot of porters, and we love this deep and complex brew from Riverwalk Brewing in Newburyport. We don’t have many storm doors in Massachusetts, but maybe stash a few in the pantry in case you need reinforcements for a snow day! Tasting notes: vanilla and cinnamon.
3. Jack’s Abby Red Tape
For those who aren’t quite ready to commit to porters or stouts, grab a Red Tape from Jack’s Abby. This dunkel style (dark German lager) is a nice malty, amber. Bonus: the can will match your Christmas sweater! Tasting notes: cocoa and caramel.
4. Secret Stairs Boston Stout
You might think of Trillium as a summer-time spot given its multiple beer garden and patio spaces, but they do winter as well! Their signature Boston stout is available at local craft beer stores and all of Trillium’s locations, but we recommend checking out the newest taproom at Fenway – there will be ice skating next door as soon as it freezes! Tasting notes: nuts and chocolate.
5. Harpoon Winter Warmer
We’re doubling up on Harpoon because they really get into the winter spirit! As one of Boston’s oldest breweries, Harpoon has been making this New England staple for over three decades and you can often find it on our tours! Tasting notes: cinnamon and nutmeg.
Looking for some unique gifts for the loved ones in your life? Whether they live in Boston or are planning an upcoming trip, we have you covered with some historical and fun-filled gift ideas!
1. Craft Beer Advent Calendar
Upgrade your childhood advent calendar to a 21+ box of fun! This Twelve Days of Christmas set comes fully loaded or you can make your own with a customizable 24-day box. If you're local to Boston, Boston Bottle in the North End will also be selling their own versions. Our tour guide Rachel is bestowing this present on a lucky friend!
2. Ye Olde Tavern Tours Gift Certificate
There’s always more to learn about Boston’s history! Whether someone is a life-long resident or new to the city, they’ll love Ye Olde Tavern Tours’s walk down the Freedom Trail. Our history-educated guides know their stuff and make history fun! Along the way, guests will try three different New England craft beers at historical taverns to round-out a great experience. Take 20% off all gift certificates now until Monday, December 2!
3. Gaining Ground
Brian, our tour guide interested in maps, recommends this coffee-table worthy book about Boston. From beautiful images to interesting history and engineering lessons, you’ll keep your friends and family learning about a city that is both historic and ever-changing.
4. Boston Tote
Walk the city in style – and never get lost – with this Boston map tote bag. Tour guide Brooke uses this bag for her groceries, but you can also stash snacks for a Freedom Trail walk, or bringing your favorite book to read in the Common. No matter how you use it, you’ll feel like a true Bostonian with this over your shoulder!
5. DIY Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes
We love beer, but we also love sweet treats too. Our tour guide Kelly is especially enthusiastic about Boston Creme Pie, so she recommends these DIY boxes from a New England company. It comes with instructions and pre-measured ingredients to pair with kitchen staples. Boston Cream Pie was first created at Boston’s Parker House hotel, so you can bring a little bit of Boston cheer to all your holiday celebrations.
6. Boston in the American Revolution
Books are making a comeback and this is THE Boston history book – for all ages! Boston in the American Revolution provides an interesting and accessible history, with a lot of fun along the way. It has a helpful guide that links present-day Boston with historical events and focuses on some key players that every American should know.
7. Boston Tea Party Candle
If the history lover in your life loves some self-care too, check out this candle of black tea, seaweed, and driftwood. Elizabeth, our tour guide who also works as an historical interpreter for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, will be gifting these this year. Everyone can use a little R&R after the holidays – make their relaxation revolutionary.
8. Trident Booksellers Gift Certificate
Our tour guide Kristen loves this local bookstore! There’s truly something for everyone at Trident – from events, to delicious food and local beer, and fun gifts. Or just cozy up to the bar with a good book! This versatile gift card (digital or mailed) won’t disappoint.
9. Boston Sports Trivia Game
The city of champions has had an historic run in the past two decades. Do you know any die-hard fans who thinks they’ve followed it all? Test their knowledge with this entertaining sports trivia game. Trust us, they’ll learn something!
10. New England Snack Basket
Spice up the traditional holiday snack basket with this New England tailored fare. You’ll get some maple sugar candies, cranberry pepper jelly, gummy lobsters, and so much more… all locally made of course!
1. Holiday Pop-Up Bar
We love festive holiday drinks at Ye Olde Tavern Tours! If you do too, we might see you at a Miracle pop-up bar around Massachusetts. This popular event started in NYC and now spreads holiday cheer worldwide, including the Marlowe Hotel in Cambridge, Mystic Station in Malden, and the Citizen in Worcester. Given Boston’s history as a major rum producer, we recommend the “Bad Santa,” a rum-based cocktail with citrus, spices, and coconut! Open the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas.
2. Boston Common Tree Lighting
Boston is not short on holiday cheer when it comes to lighting up the city. If you want to see one of the biggest tree lighting ceremonies in action, head to the Visitor’s Information Center on Boston Common on Thursday, December 5th from 6-9pm. There will be refreshments, music, and (of course) Santa until the lights start coming on around 7:55pm. Over 80 trees throughout the Common and Public Garden will be lit up.
Also, while you’re in the area check out the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill. Quaint Charles Street will close down to cars from 6-9pm. You can get a start on your holiday shopping and enjoy the carolers!
3. Ice Skating on Frog Pond
The Boston Common gets festive during the day time too – check out the frog pond for some ice skating! Open at 10am every day over the winter (except some holidays), adults skate for $6 and children (under 58 inches) get in free. You can also rent skates and skating aids.
4. Boston Beers + History
Start the holiday season off right with Ye Olde Tavern Tours! We’ll take you down the Freedom Trail, serve up some New England winter beers, and teach you about Boston’s history, including an epic snowball fight that ended in the…you’ll have to join us to find out!
5. Santa Speedo Run
If a Turkey Trot sounds like a bit much for you (a whole 5K?!), we have the perfect holiday training regimen--the Santa Speedo Run! On Saturday, December 14, join a group of runners/drinkers on a one-mile run through Back Bay, which starts and ends with libations. One minor detail: Most of the runners will only be wearing speedos and Santa hats! While the costume isn’t necessary, they do recommend dressing in holiday cheer and helping out the Play Ball! Charity, which you can do as a spectator as well.
6. SoWa Holiday Weekend
We love the South End's SoWa market (short for South of Washington St.) on any Sunday, but it’s especially festive during the holidays. It will be open in the evening on Friday, December 6 and all day December 7 and 8 for a special holiday weekend. It’s always full of art, shops, and food, but to get into the holiday spirit there will be ice sculptures, handmade gifts, and holiday DIY workshops as well!