J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

U.S. News Gets Around to the American Revolution

A few months back, I chatted by phone with Michael Morella, Associate Editor at U.S. News & World Report, about the Boston Massacre. That magazine’s editors had decided to assemble a special issue devoted to the American Revolution.

That timely magazine hit the market this month, and it looks like a solid introduction to the topic built from recent books and interviews with recognized experts. The articles are grouped under four themes:
  • Turning Points
  • Diplomacy & Discord
  • In the Trenches 
  • Myths & Legends
As a grab-bag of basic information and intriguing facts, the magazine reminds me of a little paperback I picked up in the Bicentennial and still have. It could well spark some other young person’s interest in the future.

The pictures are a combination of illustrations from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that reflect the outlook of their times, photographs that reflect the outlook of ours, and a few eighteenth-century images.

The articles I’ve sampled are all reasonably solid on facts (with the exception of Harlow Giles Unger’s brief description of the tar-and-feathering of Thomas Ditson, Jr., from his book about the Tea Party). I wouldn’t have included four pages on John Peter Zenger’s libel trial a full generation before the Revolution, but then I’m not in the news-printing business. We all have our biases.

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