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, October 21, 2013

Two National Book Award Nominees

The National Book Awards finalists in the Nonfiction category include two books anchored in the eighteenth century.

The Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin is Jill Lepore’s biography of Benjamin Franklin’s baby sister. Jane Mecom remained in Boston raising a working-class family while her brother climbed the business, political, and scientific ladder to gentility and then legend. Here’s a review by Mary Beth Norton in the New York Times Book Review. And here’s Mary Ellen Lennon’s thoughtful analysis of how Lepore pulled a biography out of a limited amount of material at the U.S. Intellectual History network.

The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 is Alan Taylor’s study of how the oldest and largest British colony in North America (and for a while the largest state) dealt with the threat of enslaved workers rising up or escaping to the enemy in wartime. Though the book starts with Dunmore’s War and the Revolution, much of it concerns the War of 1812 and scares and uprisings in the early republic. In a review behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall, Mark M. Smith called the book “impressively researched and beautifully crafted.” Here’s Roy Rogers’s review at The Junto.

For the rest of this week I plan to post about more new books that touch on the American Revolution.

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