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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Saturday, December 06, 2014

An Empire on the Edge on the T.V.

On Sunday, 7 December, C-SPAN 2 will air a talk by Nick Bunker, author of An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America, at the New-York Historical Society in October.

An Empire on the Edge focuses on the years 1772 to 1775, starting with the East India Company’s troubles and the Gaspée incident in Rhode Island and ending with the orders to march to Concord. Not the orders Gen. Thomas Gage gave, really, but the orders he received from his superiors in London, telling him that he had to act quickly.

That’s because Bunker, while writing in detail about important events in North America like the legal and political impasse in Boston leading up to the Tea Party, concentrates most on the decision-making in London. He uses British sources that rarely show up in American histories. Government ministers and members of Parliament come across as individuals rather than, as in many accounts from a purely American perspective, a rather faceless mass.

I got an early look at Nick Bunker’s book and found it solid and provocative; I plan to share more thoughts soon. I also got to hear Nick talk about it at the Boston Athenaeum this fall. After that talk a couple of audience members told me that they’d had trouble hearing; the acoustics and amplification in the room weren’t ideal, and Nick had so much to say (in a British accent, of course) that it might have been hard to keep up. I suspect that makes this recorded presentation all the more valuable.

Nick Bunker’s talk is scheduled to air on C-SPAN 2 on Sunday, 7 December, starting at 7:00 P.M.

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